BBC to investigate news censorship claims
The alleged censorship was exposed by a YouTube clip of a BBC report shown in Malaysia
The BBC has ordered "urgent inquiries" into how its news coverage is being apparently censored when broadcast abroad, with scenes about anti-government protests removed.
The development is serious for the BBC because it risks undermining its global reputation for impartiality.
The censorship accusations are especially embarrassing for the Corporation as it comes as the broadcast regulator Ofcom is investigating a "news fixing" scandal involving BBC World News and other global broadcasters, revealed in The Independent last year.
Viewers in Malaysia thought they were watching a BBC World News package on violent anti-government protests last Saturday. In fact, the original report made by BBC correspondent Emily Buchanan had been heavily re-edited by a local satellite broadcaster which carries the BBC channel.
The censorship was exposed in a YouTube clip which juxtaposed the full report, introduced by presenter Dani Sinha and shown elsewhere on BBC World News, with the version shown in Malaysia. By last night hundreds of thousands of viewers had seen how several controversial parts of the film had been cut, including shots of police firing water cannon, a protester claiming officers had opened fire on the demonstration and a man claiming elections in Malaysia were neither independent nor clean.
The edited report was shown by Astro, the direct broadcast satellite service which carries BBC World News in Malaysia. In recent days police have fired tear gas at tens of thousands of protesters involved in electoral reform demonstrations in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
In a statement, the BBC expressed its concerns at the apparent censorship: "The BBC is making urgent inquiries to the Malaysian operator, Astro, to establish the facts."
A BBC spokesman said. "During the week of World Press Freedom Day, it would be deplorable if access to independent and impartial news was being prevented in any way. We would strongly condemn any blocking of the trusted news that we broadcast around the world, including via distribution partners."
Clare Rewcastle of the Sarawak Report said she had set up her campaigning website because of censorship in Malaysia, where the same regime has been in power for more than half a century.
"The press and broadcast media in Malaysia is completely controlled and manipulated by the regime and there is no access to unbiased reporting except on the internet," she said.
"Clearly in this case there was a similar attempt to introduce bias into an objective BBC report that related to police brutality against peaceful demonstrators. It shows the regime in its true colours, but if this sort of doctoring of BBC reports is permitted on the part of regimes like Malaysia, then it puts the integrity of the BBC at a severe reputational risk."
Al Jazeera also complained that coverage of the protests by its correspondent had been doctored by the satellite service.
Astro said it had a right to edit international channels so they complied with content regulations. The company said it was "surprised and somewhat disappointed" by the BBC's reaction.
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...
£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...
40,000- 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gam...