‘Passing the buck!’ Ofcom refuses to investigate BBC after MP reports Today programme to regulator

Broadcasting House and Michael Fabricant

‘Passing the buck!’ Ofcom REFUSES to investigate BBC over Hamas coverage

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Oliver Trapnell

By Oliver Trapnell

Published: 17/10/2023

- 22:34

Updated: 18/10/2023

- 07:48

In a letter seen by GB News, Ofcom said editorial content must be dealt with under a ‘BBC first’ framework.

Ofcom has refused to investigate the BBC over the broadcaster’s decision to label Hamas “militants” rather than “terrorists” after an MP reported the Today programme to the regulator.

Britain’s broadcast regulator has today said that it will not investigate the Beeb after the broadcaster was reported by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant for “false” claims on its Today programme.

Fabricant demanded that Ofcom take action after a host claimed she could not refer to Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

In a letter seen today by GB News, the regulator said that complaints must first be dealt with by the BBC before being passed to Ofcom.

WATCH NOW: Protester demands BBC call Hamas terrorists

It read: “Under the BBC Charter and Agreement, approved by Parliament, complaints about BBC editorial content must be dealt with under a ‘BBC First’ framework.

“This means that other than in exceptional circumstances, complainants need to complete the BBC complaints process before coming to Ofcom.”

Commenting on the letter, Fabricant accused the regulator of shifting responsibility.

“This is Ofcom passing the buck,” Fabricant told GB News.

BBCThe BBC has faced backlash over its decision to not brand Hamas terroristsPA

“The complaint against the BBC directly involved Ofcom as Mishal Hussain on the ‘Today’ programme claimed, incorrectly, that it is Ofcom rules that expressly prevent the BBC describing Hamas as terrorists!”

The Lichfield MP took action after the Today host, Mishal Husain falsely said “Ofcom rules” prevented her from using the word “terrorist”.

Writing to the regulator’s top authority Dame Melanie Dawes, Fabricant said: “After the Defence Secretary called out the BBC for refusing to label Hamas as a terrorist organisation, the presenter falsely claimed that the Ofcom broadcasting code prevented the BBC from naming Hamas as 'terrorists' due to the requirement for accuracy and due impartiality.

“This is inherently incorrect. As a former BBC employee and former DCMS select committee member I am fully confident that the Ofcom guidelines do not forbid the use of the word 'terrorist' when they have committed an act of terror.

Michael Fabricant letterMichael Fabricant's letter to Ofcom Michael Fabricant MP

“Given the clear misstating of the Ofcom broadcasting rules, it is my strong belief that Ofcom should advise the Today programme to correct the record as a matter of urgency and apologise to their listeners.”

Last night, protesters gathered outside the BBC’s headquarters at Broadcasting House to make their voices heard over the Beeb’s refusal to call the group terrorists.

Speaking with a GB News reporter, one protester said: “The BBC has got to call terror by its name. King Charles just made a statement calling Hamas terrorists.

“It's not hard. It's a very clear-cut line.

“If you commit those kinds of atrocities, you're a terrorist organisation.”

GB News has approached Ofcom for comment.

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