“Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row

Alex Hern reports on the BBC Trust’s assessment of the validity of BBC 1Xtra’s censorship of the phrase “Free Palestine”.

 

The BBC Trust has announced that it is satisfied with the decision to censor the word Palestine from a freestyle performance by the rapper Mic Righteous.

In the show, which aired 11 February last year, Righteous rapped:

“I still have the same beliefs

“I can scream Free Palestine,

“Die for my pride still pray for peace,

“Still burn a fed for the brutality

“They spread over the world.”

The production team made the decision to put a sound effect, of glass smashing, over the word Palestine. You can listen to the whole performance here, or the offending section here.

In response to the original complaints, the BBC executive argued (pdf)

that BBC Radio 1Xtra and the BBC as a whole had a duty to be impartial. In this instance, the production team felt that Mic Righteous was expressing a political viewpoint which, if it had been aired in isolation, would have compromised impartiality.

The BBC’s guidelines on impartiality state:

The audience expects artists, writers and entertainers to have scope for individual expression in drama, entertainment and culture. The BBC is committed to offering it.

Where this covers matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or other “controversial subjects”, services should normally aim to reflect a broad range of the available perspectives over time.

Interestingly, the BBC apparently considers “scream Free Palestine” to be more of a controversial statement than “burn a fed”. The Trust has now released its adjudication of the matter, but in so doing has dodged the question.

They write:

The Committee agreed that it is for the Executive to decide what to include and what not to include in a broadcast, provided the result does not lead to a breach of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.

The Committee agreed that its duty was to assess whether the material as broadcast was likely to have been in breach of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, in this case those relating to impartiality.

In other words, in response to complaints that the BBC was unfairly censoring an artist, the Trust has instead examined whether the finished program breached impartiality guidelines. Given the potential breach was never aired, the result of assessment was a foregone conclusion.

Amena Saleem, of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, argued:

The BBC Trust has moved the goalposts and decided to look at the censored content that was broadcast in February and April 2011.

“And the Trustees have decided that the content from which the word ‘Palestine’ had been edited was not biased against Palestine. This level of manipulation and duplicity would not be out of place in Catch 22.

The BBC needs to answer the real question; not whether the finished show was impartial, but whether it is acceptable policy to censor the word Palestine.

See also:

Israel-Palestine in 2012 – Seph Brown, January 5th 2012

Mitchell tells Israelis and Palestinians: “Get in the room, sit down and negotiate” – Shamik Das, October 18th 2011

Palestine UN bid: Without courage, the cause of moderates will be lost – Sara Ibrahim, September 21st 2011

Inside the “We believe in Israel” conference – Seph Brown, May 16th 2011

Palestine Papers revelations shed new light on peace process – Seph Brown, January 24th 2011

20 Responses to ““Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row”

  1. Patrick

    The Left only believes in freedom of speech when it’s a sentiment they agree with. When Nick Griffin was on Question Time, they opposed his presence. Hypocrisy.

  2. Rob

    Just censor the whole thing… awful noise

  3. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row //t.co/meOTPnLF

  4. Feral Elite

    BBC's censorship of words "free Palestine" from rap: //t.co/VXkXfKc0 #propaganda

  5. Open the Fed

    WTF?! RT @WarYouDontSee RT @leftfootfwd: “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row //t.co/WFsaxU3O #BBC #censorship #BBCbias

  6. sarah colborne

    @PSCupdates campaign against BBC censorship of 'Free Palestine' //t.co/txqwiAgd

  7. Ian T. Cruz

    “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row: The production team made the decision to put a sound effec… //t.co/Sirp2myM

  8. SuzyQ8

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row //t.co/D43PcEaf

  9. newsblok

    “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row //t.co/snQEG55t

  10. Nigelwootton421

    The BBC Trust is ultimately run by Tory heavyweight Chris Patten. Apparently, the Cameron regime has managed to censor the lyric “Free Palestine” in a song by rapper Mr. Righteous, on the behalf of the brutal and violent Zionist regime of Benjamin Netanyahu. It is not the BBC I know that would censor such an artistic statement for the freedom and human rights of the Palestinian people.
    “I still have the same beliefs
    “I can scream Free Palestine,
    “Die for my pride still pray for peace,
    “Still burn a fed for the brutality
    “They spread over the world.”

  11. H. S. Awan

    “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row: //t.co/exEKWtVO

  12. Anonymous

    All I can say–like CBC, BBC is no diffferant–hi-jacked by zeolot zionist Kosher freaks.Take a good look who/what religion cult runs the boards.Sad part is BBC funding–all Brits have to pay a mandatory yearly fee to watch the Booob Tube $150/year color and B/W $100. Get this contarcted to a Israel collection company WTF?

  13. NotAmused

    Pathetic, BBC, just pathetic. Proving that they are just another “3 letter” network.

  14. RadioWatcher

    #radionews UK: “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row: //t.co/SlEPIWma #bbctrust #bbc #1xtra #medianews

  15. Arthur Askey

    “the BBC as a whole had a duty to be impartial. In this instance, the production team felt that Mic Righteous was expressing a political viewpoint which, if it had been aired in isolation, would have compromised impartiality.”

    Like the impartiality they show when cheering on the attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria. Unfortunately the simple fact is the director general is a ‘friend of Israel’, which also explains why the BBC banned the DEC Gaza appeal after Cast Lead. Another Zionist mouth=peice paid for out of the public purse.

  16. Paul Gurney

    #bbc censors the word #Palestine //t.co/rRlsqqs6 #Israel #Gaza #WestBank #occupation

  17. Sarah AB

    I don’t think it’s right to censor the phrase ‘free Palestine’.

    //hurryupharry.org/2011/05/15/liberty-if-it-means-anything-means-the-right-to-%E2%80%93-say-%E2%80%98free-palestine%E2%80%99-i-think-doesn%E2%80%99t-it/

    Not sure, after reading the comments, about some of the company I’m keeping though.

  18. Arthur Askey

    What is significant is that Thompson appears to be the first BBC director-general to have gone in an official role to speak with the Israeli government. More to the point, Thompson did so despite the fact that the head of government at the time was none other than Ariel Sharon, widely known in the Arab world as the ‘Butcher of Beirut’.

    As this last point makes clear, Crocwatch doesn’t accept that Thompson’s motivation is the one that he is claiming to have, i.e. that the BBC must remain ‘impartial’. This argument is absurd in the context of a humanitarian appeal by entities such as the Red Cross.

    Whichever way you look at it, Thompson’s argument is so flimsy that there must be an ulterior motive for Thompson’s ‘self–censorship’—or is it just plain old censorship—of the BBC. The question now is whether Thompson is actually a closet Zionist himself, or whether he has simply been ‘spineless’ (as one response to his blog put it) and has rolled over when faced with pressure from the Israeli Lobby.

    //crocwatch.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/mark-thompson-the-bbc-and-the-israeli-lobby/

  19. AllFools

    Anyone remember that song “Free Nelson Mandela”? The BBC happily played that even when the UK governments position was that Mendela was a convicted terrorist (thanks Maggie).

    Mark Thompson was given the job by Tony Blair, enough said.

  20. Blessed Love Studios

    Shameful decision by 1xtra, must read this : RT @leftfootfwd: “Free Pale*****”: BBC tries to settle censorship row //t.co/LseMQMFT

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