BBC News repeatedly broke the Ofcom code by broadcasting material deemed to be propaganda.
The broadcaster allowed programmes to be funded by foreign governments, charities and NGOs – leading to massive conflicts of interest and a loss of editorial control over their BBC news output.
An Ofcom investigation has revealed that 50 breaches of its broadcasting code were made by CNN, CNBC, and the BBC following a four-year inquiry into the global news channels.
As The Independent notes, news films and documentaries were acquired for nominal fees and the identity of the funders not disclosed to the audience – in what has been dubbed a “£1 programme scandal”.
This means that the BBC’s impartiality, a core requirement of their editorial guidelines for all factual output, was compromised when it acquired hundreds of low-cost or free programmes submitted to them by organisations such as the UN, the Indonesian ministry of trade, and a Cambodian casino.
Ofcom found that the this practise risked the editorial control and independence of the BBC, and has now ordered an industry-wide meeting to address the issues raised in its investigation.
The Independent goes on to say:
The Ofcom probe, the biggest it has undertaken into television content, began after an investigation in 2011 by The Independent, which revealed that a London-based media company that had received millions of pounds from the Malaysian government for public relations work was making documentaries for the BBC on the subject of Malaysia.
Ofcom are now looking at a public consultation with a view to radically overhauling its Broadcasting Code in relation to news programming. In it’s 112-page report, Ofcom say “This was different from a normal investigation in that it covered programmes broadcast in over 200 countries, by three TV news channels.” The regulator conducted what it refers to as “forensic analysis” of over 1,000 programmes.
The BBC issued a statement on Monday to address Ofcom’s concerns, saying that they have “strengthened its procedures” in its News output in order to protect editorial integrity.
“We are pleased that Ofcom welcomes the steps we continue to apply to prevent further issues and we look forward to working with Ofcom and the other broadcasters to develop best practice guidelines to help maintain compliance with the Code in this complex area.“