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Paid News: BBC, CNN, CNBC flouting journalistic standards

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

International broadcasters including the giant BBC repeatedly broke the Ofcom code by screening programmes funded by foreign governments, charities and NGOs, an investigation has revealed recently. Ofcom has uncovered nearly 50 breaches of its code by CNN, CNBC and the BBC after a four-year inquiry into the global news  channels, The Independent reported.

As a mater of fact, the Ofcom codes on due impartiality states that news, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality. Also, the funded broadcasting as per Ofcom codes leads to “inherent risk to independence and editorial integrity”.

The media regulator discovered a series of infringements of its impartiality guidelines and found that hundreds of nominal-fee programmes had been paid for by bodies ranging from United Nations departments to the Indonesian ministry of trade and a Cambodian casino firm.

It said the practice carried “inherent risk to independence and editorial integrity” and it has ordered an “industry-wide” meeting of news networks to address the matter.

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.

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The Independent also detailed how the company, FBC Media (UK), had close ties to the American networks CNN and CNBC. Ofcom reported that both broadcasters had broken its rules on due impartiality. The regulator said it would now draw up new “best-practice guidelines” for broadcasters so that “viewers can continue to be confident in the independence of factual programming”.

The broadcaster most criticised in the findings was CNN International, which was found to have broken the code 26 times, including breaches of both the impartiality and sponsorship rules.

John Defterios, one of CNN’s leading business presenters, was a director and president of FBC from 2007 until 2011. Defterios conducted interviews on CNN with the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, in 2010 and 2011 on the shows Marketplace Middle East and Quest Means Business. John Defterios, a CNN presenter, was a director of FBC Media, which took money from the Malaysian state.

Given that “the government of Malaysia had been a client of FBC”, Ofcom ruled that “FBC’s relationship with the government of Malaysia and Defterios’s relationship with FBC would have called into question the due impartiality of the interviews”. It identified a third breach of impartiality rules in an interview Defterios conducted with the governor of Malaysia’s central bank, also on Marketplace Middle East.

Ofcom also found CNN in breach of impartiality rules over a 2009 interview by Defterios with Gamal Mubarak, son of the then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian government’s investment authority, Gafi, was another FBC client.

The regulator also found CNN had committed more than 20 breaches of its code on sponsorship by failing to properly declare content funding by organisations ranging from the Singapore Economic Development Board to Macedonia Tourism.

In a statement, CNN said: “We welcome Ofcom’s conclusion that the way our programmes were funded did not compromise CNN International’s editorial independence.” It added that “we … accept that a very small portion of our sponsored content fell under what Ofcom categorises as current affairs, which under UK regulations may not be sponsored”.

The BBC was found to have breached Ofcom’s code on sponsorship 20 times on its World News channel, where it featured programmes underwritten by funders ranging from the Aga Khan Foundation to the International Diabetes Foundation and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. BBC World News, the broadcaster’s 24-hour global news channel, handed Ofcom details of 186 programmes supplied to it for no cost or a nominal sum (typically £1).

The regulator asked the BBC to “explain in full its practice of accepting free or nominal-cost programming and broadcasting this without sponsorship credits”. The BBC replied that this practice dated back to 1991 when World News began.

The BBC defended itself by arguing that it invariably included a “thanks to” message to the funder in the credits for the programme. Ofcom said this was insufficient.

One programme, Architects on the Frontline, was paid for by the Aga Khan Foundation, a not-for-profit development organisation set up by one of the world’s wealthiest men, and featured the boast that the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was “widely recognised as the most prestigious in its field”. Ofcom said the fact that a programme’s “interests are humanitarian and highly laudable” did not mean it was exempt from rules on declaring sponsors.

Another BBC programme, Stealing the Past, covered the traffic in stolen antiquities and featured interviews with Irina Bokova, director general of Unesco, the UN body which funded the documentary.

Ofcom’s investigation into FBC’s programmes for the BBC was hampered by the fact that the company went into liquidation months after The Independent exposé. The regulator could not find evidence that FBC specifically spent money from the millions it received from the Malaysian government on programmes it made for the BBC about Malaysia “as opposed to non-television public relations and lobbying activity”.

The BBC had previously broadcasted an on-air apology for the scandal, which was the subject of “extensive internal investigation”, it told the regulator. “We know that FBC had a PR relationship with Malaysian clients and as such we fully accept that it was not an appropriate producer of the programmes it produced for BBC World News,” it admitted. “We acknowledge that a conflict of interest existed here, in breach of the BBC’s editorial guidelines and that this relationship could have undermined our editorial independence.”

The BBC said last night that it had already strengthened its procedures 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.”

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BBC Expands Indian Operations with Four Additional Regional Languages ; Indian Network now Biggest Outside UK

The Indian operation has now become the biggest outside the UK

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BBC news services are available online and on social media. IANS

New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : In its largest expansion drive since the 1940s, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) has launched four news services in India in Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Telugu languages.

The new services are available online and on social media, with a Telugu TV bulletin, BBC Prapancham, starting on Wednesday, the news provider said in a statement.

BBC News already broadcasts to 28 million people in India in Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and English.

Director of BBC World Services group, Francesca Unsworth, told reporters on Wednesday that the i.

“Our values will remain the same with the new channels, which is to inform, educate and entertain… We do not want to be restricted to Delhi-centric, capital-based reporting and will bring out the stories of rural India,” she said. (IANS)

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US President Elect Donald Trump complains about Bad Cover Photo to a News Portal

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Donald Trump Wikimedia

Delhi, Jan 3, 2017: CNN released book “Unprecedented” received visual critique from the newly elected US President Donald Trump. Trump tweeted the following, in context to the newly released book:

“CNN just released a book called ‘Unprecedented’ which explore the 2016 race and victory. Hope it does well but used worst cover photo of me.”

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There are actually two versions of the book’s cover — an “Inaugural edition” displaying a serious looking Trump and another version that contains a collage of different photos from the election, including a large picture of Trump speaking at a podium. It is ambiguous as to which cover photo the President-elect was referencing as being “the worst”.

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CNN describes the book as a chronicle of the 2016 presidential elections and the president’s surprising win. It deems the book as an account on the fight for the presidency between Trump -a blustery billionaire and a reality TV star with no military or government experience, no respect for the rule of politics and no fear of offending people, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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The 70 year old President is very conscious about his “image” in media as he had previously complained to NBC News President Deborah Turness also, that the network wouldn’t run a “nice” picture of him and instead chose one that made him look like he had a double-chin.

– prepared by Shambhavi Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter:  @shambhavispeaks

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Sikh contestant Rav Bansal in UK bakery show “Great British Bake Off” racially abused

Bansal is one of 10 remaining contestants on Great British Bake Off this year, and has won fans for his good-natured humour

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Sikhism. Image source: Pixabay

London, September 3, 2016: A 28-year-old Sikh contestant Rav Bansal on this year’s ‘Great British Bake Off’ disclosed that he suffered racial abuse after appearing in the first two episodes of the hit BBC show.

Rav Bansal said he was asked whether he was a “P—” by a stranger who referred to the “not-so-British Bake Off”, The Telegraph reported late Friday.

“So today I was asked ‘Are you the p*** on the not so British bake off?’ Really, in 2016?,” Bansal tweeted.

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Bansal, who resides in Erith, Kent with his parents and works at City University, was supported by his fellow contestants, who immediately rallied around to condemn the comments, The Telegraph reported.

Fellow contestant Benjamina Ebuehi, one of his fellow amateur bakers, responded to his tweet saying it was “so horrible”.

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However, Bansal is not the first Bake Off contestant to have suffered racist abuse, with last year’s winner British-Muslim Nadiya Hussain previously speaking frankly about the insults and violence she has suffered at the hands of strangers.

Bansal is one of 10 remaining contestants on Great British Bake Off this year, and has won fans for his good-natured humour, The Telegraph added. (IANS)