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News – The BBC exposed

December 2008

The BBC exposed


Tens of thousands of complaints from licence payers, and criticism from the Prime Minister and MPs, finally brought a reluctant BBC to act on the bad behaviour of two of its presenters.

     In October, Russell Brand resigned and Jonathan Ross was suspended from broadcasting, for lewd and distasteful comments left on actor Andrew Sachs’ telephone answering machine.

     Many Christians were not surprised that once again the BBC found itself woefully detached from public taste and decency. In 2005 the corporation’s decision to broadcast Jerry Springer the Opera sparked national outrage and led to over 60,000 complaints to the BBC – twice the number received over the Brand-Ross affair.

     Following the broadcast the BBC faced two unsuccessful High Court legal actions – one a private prosecution for blasphemy and one arguing the corporation had broken its own taste and decency rules and discriminated against Christians.

     On both occasions the actions failed and an investigation by Ofcom ruled that the BBC did not break taste and decency codes. It is likely that the shame and embarrassment of this latest scandal will result in a welcome – and long overdue – review of the BBC’s editorial standards.