The BBC has been forced to broadcast an apology to about 74 million people all over the world for â€œa news fixing scandal,â€ The Independent revealed.
The BBC broadcast some documentaries made by FBC Media, a London TV company, which earned millions of pounds from PR clients featured in the programs. The paper disclosed last year that the BBC paid small fees of as low as Â£1 for the programs of FBC media, whose list of PR client enclosed several foreign governments and multinational firms.
In one case, the company received Â£17 million from Malaysian government to make programs that contained the positive coverage of Malaysia’s highly controversial palm oil industry.
The BBC also broadcast another FBC documentary entitled as â€œThird Eye: Egyptâ€ about the revolutionary uprising in Egypt, warning that the country might be ruled by extremists.
The BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee conducted a probe into BBC World News, revealing it had committed 15 breaches of editorial guidelines. Eight of the breaches were related to the FBC pieces made for the government of Malaysia. The trust stressed that the breaches were â€œseriousâ€ and â€œwent to the heart of the BBCâ€™s international reputation and risked undermining the editorial integrity of its output.â€
The apology, broadcast four times by BBC World News, directly referred to the FBC programs, saying, “In the case of eight other programs, all of which featured Malaysia, we found that the production company which made the programs appeared to have a financial relationship with the Malaysian government. This meant there was a potential conflict of interest, though the BBC was not aware of it when the programs were broadcast.”
“Editorial integrity is the highest priority for BBC World News, which is why we apologize for these breaches of our normal standards,” the apology concluded.
Analysts criticized the British media for imposing a blackout over the BBCâ€™s apology, believing the story of the BBCâ€™s secretly funded documentaries would raise the question of the integrity of programs broadcasted by the UK media and would be regarded as another stain on the reputation of the British media business.