LUCY FRAZER: The BBC must call Hamas what they are – terrorists
CULTURE SECRETARY LUCY FRAZER: I’m so disappointed… The BBC must call Hamas what they are – terrorists
Babies murdered in their beds. Festival-goers slaughtered as they danced in the desert. Grandmothers plucked from homes and taken as hostages. More than 1,000 innocent lives – including British lives – taken in cold blood.
The horrors visited on Israel by Hamas a week ago today are almost too shocking to comprehend. Which is why the language we use to describe them matters so much.
Make no mistake: This was terrorism, pure and simple. These were terrorist acts committed by a terrorist organisation, proscribed in the United Kingdom since 2021 and designated as such by many other governments and international organisations.
Calling these hideous acts what they are, and accurately labelling the perpetrators, tells it as it is. It helps audiences to understand what has happened, is happening and its context.
That is why I and others have been so disappointed that the BBC has refused directly to describe Hamas as terrorists or the atrocities it has carried out as terrorism, and why I raised the matter with BBC director-general Tim Davie on Monday.
LUCY FRAZER (pictured): The horrors visited on Israel by Hamas a week ago today are almost too shocking to comprehend. Which is why the language we use to describe them matters so much. Make no mistake: This was terrorism, pure and simple
The BBC is editorially and operationally independent and it is not for the Government to write its editorial guidelines (Director-General of the BBC Tim Davie)
The BBC is editorially and operationally independent and it is not for the Government to write its editorial guidelines. Its accuracy and impartiality are critical to viewer trust and something the BBC is right to guard preciously.
The BBC has described other attacks as terrorism – 9/11, 7/7 and the Bataclan – but it won’t call this what it is. As the PM said this week, this is the third-deadliest terror attack in the world since 1970.
True impartiality means being grounded in facts. And the truth is that the legal position in the UK on this is clear. Hamas are terrorists. They were proscribed as such in 2021. To describe them as something other than that may itself be partial. And it must be right for the BBC to ask itself whether its self-imposed straightjacketed guidance is actually preventing it from presenting a fair and accurate picture to its audiences.
Black smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on the seventh day of the clashes in Rafah, Gaza
The members of Hamas who attacked Israel were not ‘militants’ or ‘fighters’ – they were terrorists. Yesterday, the BBC’s Today programme implied that Ofcom’s broadcasting code prohibits the BBC and other broadcasters from referring to them as such. But Ofcom has been clear that responsibility lies on the BBC to decide the vocabulary it uses to describe unfolding events. The rules do not prevent broadcasters referring to ‘terrorist’ organisations, nor do they prevent them referring to Hamas as terrorists.
British broadcasting is revered around the world, and the BBC has a special place within it. It is an organisation that reflects our values and projects UK soft power all around the globe. Millions of people trust it. It is an organisation that can rightly say it often sets the standard and is a beacon for others to follow.
Since I was appointed to this role I have stated in speech after speech and interview after interview how proud I am of our world-leading BBC. But in this case I do not believe it has set the right standard.
The BBC will maintain public trust by reporting events accurately. In this case, that means calling Hamas what they are. Terrorists.
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