Ian Burrell: This makes a mockery of any editorial firewall Chinese walls were never built at FBC


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The Independent Online

London-based media company FBC boasted a list of clients that ranged from global technology giant Microsoft to the Malaysian government and the Greek ministry of foreign affairs.

The service the company offered was quite exceptional, as is clear from documents relating to the work it did for Microsoft, promoting projects in Europe.

On the one hand, the "story strategy" it sets out is pure PR, promising to "illustrate how Microsoft is at the forefront of innovation and job creation".

But in the same letter, FBC makes a promise of "guaranteed distribution placement" on a prestigious editorial programme it made for CNBC, a respected business channel owned by the US network NBC and screened in Britain. FBC added that broadcasters gave it "final editorial control" over such productions.

This makes a mockery of the idea FBC operated Chinese walls keeping its commercial work distinct from its production of editorial news programmes.

This was the company the BBC commissioned to make a series of documentaries and programmes, including several on Malaysia, little knowing it had taken millions of pounds from the Malaysian government to promote the country.