Ofcom finds LBC radio ‘broke broadcast rules’ with ‘Jewish Embassy’ reports

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Ofcom finds LBC radio ‘broke broadcast rules’ with ‘Jewish Embassy’ reports

Ofcom finds LBC Radio news reports during anti-Israel protests in May 2021 were in breach of broadcasting code after the Israeli Embassy called the 'Jewish Embassy' nine times

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Ofcom has found that LBC Radio “broke our rules on due accuracy in news and offence” after repeatedly describing the Israeli Embassy in London as the “Jewish Embassy” in reports aired last May during protests over airstrikes in Gaza.

The broadcast watchdog’s investigation detailed how during coverage of protests in London organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, (PSC) an LBC reporter “inaccurately” used the term “Jewish Embassy” nine times across three news items “potentially causing offence.”

Ofcom confirmed it has acted after receiving two complaints about the broadcasts which it was alleged could contribute to antisemitic hate speech and attacks in the UK.

Announcing its findings on Monday an Ofcom spokesperson said: “Our investigation found that LBC News broke our rules on due accuracy in news and offence, by repeatedly describing the Israeli Embassy as the ‘Jewish Embassy’ during three news reports.

“Given these reports aired at a time of increasing antisemitic attacks against Jewish communities in London, we considered it was particularly important that these reports were accurate. We also recognised the clear offence this conflation was likely to cause to listeners.”

The May 15th 2021 broadcasts came from a reporter outside positioned the Israeli Embassy in west London and included interviews with Ben Jamal of the PSC.

At one point the reporter told listeners:” “About 40 metres down the road from me is the gates to the Jewish Embassy but between me and them is a sea of protestors.”

They also said of the protest:”It started at Hyde Park Corner at 12 o’clock and then walked all the way here to the Jewish Embassy. Ben Jamal was the director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He told me he wants the protest to stay peaceful”.

In another report they said:”The Jewish Embassy’s gates are closed.”

The Licensee said that the reporter had “tripped over his words in error during the heat of the moment whilst recording this segment of the programme from what was a stressful and tense situation”.

LBC Radio added that the reporter had inaccurately named the Israeli Embassy as the “Jewish Embassy” due to “the difficulty of reporting live from a high-stress and tense environment”.

It added that once it “had identified that the report was repeated [at 17:08 and 18:06], [it removed] the full four-hour programme as quickly as possible from [its] catch up services”.

It said that as LBC News had covered the protest “throughout the day…listeners who had heard the incorrect reference to the ‘Jewish Embassy’ would have understood that this was a brief anomaly in reporting among the overall coverage, which was fully accurate, and would have heard the correct reference to the Israeli Embassy each time the report was played out”.

LBC News said that “there was absolutely no intention to cause any harm or offence during the recording or broadcast of this report”.

It explained that the error was “far from ideal”, but “in no way malicious or purposefully intended to offend the Jewish community”.

In their decision Ofcom said:”The references to a “Jewish Embassy” were an inaccurate description of the Israeli Embassy in London.

“The Licensee did not dispute that an error occurred. “We consider that the repeated use of the incorrect term for the Israeli Embassy compounded the inaccuracy.”

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