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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 14:14 GMT
BBC's Dyke attacks US war reports
Greg Dyke at Broadcasting House
Greg Dyke said TV news should challenge government views
BBC Director General Greg Dyke has attacked US TV coverage of the war in Iraq in a speech at the International Emmys in New York.

Mr Dyke, who was given a broadcasting excellence award, said news channels needed to challenge governments.

"News organisations should be in the business of balancing their coverage, not banging the drum for one side or the other," he said.

He said coverage of the war showed the difference between the US and the UK.

He said the need for balance was "something which seemed to get lost in American reporting during the war".

British TV wins at Monday's awards included the best news award for Channel 4's coverage of the fall of Saddam Hussein, and the BBC's comedy The Kumars at Number 42 winning the best popular arts (scripted) award.

The Kumars at Number 42
The Kumars at Number 42 was a winner at the awards

In his speech, Mr Dyke quoted research that showed that of 840 commentators aired on US TV, only four were opposed to the war.

"I have to tell you if that was true in Britain the BBC would have failed in its duty," he said.

"Telling people what they want to hear is not doing them any favours. It may not be comfortable to challenge governments or even popular opinion, but it's what we are here to do."

Mr Dyke said TV channels had a "responsibility to broadcast a range of voices".

British winners at the International Emmys
The Kumars at Number 42 (BBC) - best popular arts (scripted)
Arena: The Life and Times of Count Luchino Visconti (BBC) - best arts
Legend of the Lost Tribe (BBC/Comic Relief) - best children and young people
The Fall of Saddam (ITN for Channel 4) - best news coverage
Without Prejudice (Channel 4) - best popular arts (nonscripted)

The fact the BBC's own news services - BBC World and News 24 - had "doubled" their audiences in the US in the last year showed there was an audience for more impartial news, he said.

"Our online services have experienced enormous growth too and have regularly received e-mails back from people here in the US saying 'Thank you for trying to explain events, thank you for being impartial'."

The awards are handed out by the International Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences, an arm of the National Television Academy.

Their purpose is to recognise excellence in television programming outside the US.

In 2002, the Kumars at Number 42 shared the Popular Arts prize with Channel 4's Faking It. Both shows have since been bought up by US networks.

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International Emmy Awards: The winners
26 Nov 02  |  Entertainment
Kumars land Emmy award
26 Nov 02  |  Entertainment


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