Thursday, July 3, 2008

Angry viewers blast BBC for showing graphic footage of a Palestinian man being shot dead

Nearly 100 viewers protested after the BBC showed footage of a Palestinian man being shot dead after running amok with a bulldozer in Jerusalem.

The construction worker killed three people and injured at least 45 others when he crushed cars and overturned buses on a busy street on Wednesday.

The Ten O’Clock News warned viewers that they would see the man being shot dead.

Then it showed the bulldozer hurtling down the street before an off-duty soldier in a blue T-shirt shot the driver at point-blank range to cries of ‘well done’.

Another said: 'I don't need to see a person shot and killed to enable me to understand what happened.

'In the past the BBC have shown such tapes and then paused the video whilst allowing the audio to continue. Does this mark a change in editorial policy at the Beeb?'

Craig Oliver editor of the 6pm and 10pm news said: 'I took a different view at Ten - deciding to run the pictures in full with a clear warning that the audience was about to see images of a man being shot dead.

'This was not an easy decision - we never want to shock for the sake of it, or to sensationalise the news."

He added: 'However, equally we don't want to sanitise the news for what is a mature and thoughtful audience.'

Oliver further explained: 'It's also important to think about what the audience actually saw - the shot was not close up, the action was slightly obscured because it was happening behind the bulldozer's windscreen, the men's faces were not visible, and no blood was seen.'

He claimed while the scene was 'disturbing'. it was 'important and illuminating' to occasionally see the reality of violence.

ITV said it did not show the moment the man was shot dead as a matter of editorial policy.

The BBC's own editorial guidelines state: 'When real life violence, or its aftermath, is shown on television or reported on radio and online we need to strike a balance between the demands of accuracy and the dangers of desensitisation or unjustified distress.'

This is the latest controversy in the BBC's coverage of the middle-east conflict after a series of accusations of pro-Palestinian bias.

The corporation recently won a legal battle to block the publication of a report into alleged bias in its reporting of Middle East affairs.

A ruling obtained under freedom of information legislation had obliged the corporation to make the internal audit public.

But that decision was overturned by the High Court.

Another controversial incident in its coverage came when Middle East correspondent Barbara Plett said she cried as Yasser Arafat was close to death in 2004.

In 2004 the Israeli government wrote to the BBC accusing its then Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin of anti-Semitism and 'total identification with the goals and methods of the Palestinian terror groups' in a report on a would-be suicide bomber.

She was moved from her role as Middle East correspondent at the end of 2005.

The Israeli government also imposed a boycott on the corporation in 2003 following a documentary about the country's weapons of mass destruction.


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