BBC assures peers over terror edict

BBC chiefs have assured Parliament they did not endorse instructions
to journalists not to describe the London bombings as “terrorist
attacks”.

“There was no kind of edict saying the word terrorist
should not be used on that day,” director general Mark Thompson told
peers.

Thompson and chairman Michael Grade were quizzed by peers
examining the BBC Charter, due for renewal next year, about reports
that BBC journalists were instructed not to use the word terrorist
because it would contravene the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

Thompson
acknowledged someone may have sent an internal email reminding staff of
the guidelines and the need to take care in the use of language to
describe what had happened (Press Gazette, 15 July).

But he
added: “I don’t think anyone who looked at the coverage would have
thought the BBC was trying to minimise the horror at what happened.”

Grade,
however, defended the BBC’s decision to suspend the serialisation on
Radio 4 of John Buchan’s novel Greenmantle. He said: “It was about an
Islamic plot to take over London.”

Committee chairman Lord Fowler
pointed out the book had been published during the First World War. But
Grade said an executive had taken a “commonsense” decision that the
audience would not be in the mood for it. He agreed, however, the BBC
“was remiss” in not giving listeners an explanation.

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