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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
US channel's BBC remarks censured
Rupert Murdoch
Fox News is controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation
UK media watchdog Ofcom has criticised US cable channel Fox News over views a presenter expressed about the BBC.

Ofcom said Fox News breached guidelines when commentator John Gibson claimed the BBC had displayed "a frothing-at-the-mouth" anti-American bias.

Gibson made the comments on the day the Hutton Report, which found a BBC report on Iraq was "unfounded", was published.

Complaints were also upheld by Ofcom against a violent death scene in ITV1's crime drama series Wire in the Blood.

Gibson's comments were broadcast on The Big Story: My Word - a personal comment section at the end of an hour-long news programme - on 28 January.

The strength and number of allegations... meant that Fox News should have offered the BBC an opportunity to respond
Ofcom report
The Hutton Report into the death of weapons inspector Dr David Kelly contained criticism of BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the corporation's "defective" editorial processes.

In his show, Gibson said the BBC displayed anti-Americanism that was "obsessive, irrational and dishonest".

He also said the corporation "felt entitled to lie and, when caught lying, felt entitled to defend its lying reporters and executives".

A total of 24 viewers complained to Ofcom that the piece was "misleading" and "misrepresented the truth".

Fox News said the basis for Gibson's piece was the fact the BBC had appointed an executive, Malcolm Balen, to act as a consultant on its Middle Eastern coverage.

'Bashing'

The network also said searching for the phrase "BBC anti-American" into the Google internet search engine resulted in 47,200 hits.

They added that the BBC "continually bashed" American policy.

And although Fox accepted Gilligan had not actually used the phrase attributed to him, it maintained Gibson had paraphrased the BBC reporter.

But Ofcom did not accept the argument that BBC's decision to monitor for "pro-Arab" bias backed up Fox's assertion that it proved an "obsessive, irrational and dishonest" anti-Americanism.

'Bashed'

The network also failed to provide evidence that the BBC "bashed" US policy or ridiculed the US president without any analysis, the watchdog said.

Ofcom also said it did not accept that the Hutton Inquiry supported the statement that the "BBC felt entitled to lie".

The regulator said: "Even taking into account that this was a 'personal view' item, the strength and number of allegations that John Gibson made against the BBC meant that Fox News should have offered the BBC an opportunity to respond."

A BBC spokesman said: "We have noted Ofcom's findings."

  • An episode of Wire in the Blood on 26 February led to 11 complaints from viewers.

    They were mainly concerned about a scene in which a man was murdered by having a nail bar rammed down his throat.

    The scene was shown only minutes after the 9pm watershed, but also after announcement saying the programme contained violent and disturbing images.

    But Ofcom said although the "gruesome" scene was brief at only one second long, it would have gone beyond viewers' expectations, especially so soon after the watershed.


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