Now Show cleared of being 'pro-terrorist' | One listener complained about 'from the river to the sea’ reference

Now Show cleared of being 'pro-terrorist'

One listener complained about 'from the river to the sea’ reference

Radio 4’s Now Show has been accused of showing ‘bias towards terrorist groups’ when talking about the Gaza conflict.

A viewer complained to the broadcaster that Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt had wrongly described the phrase ‘from the river to the sea’ as ‘a pro-Palestinian chant’.

The phrase has been adopted by Hamas and other militant groups, leading to the interpretation that it calls for, at best, the dismantling of Israel, or at worst the extermination of the Jewish population of the region.

However, the comedians did not acknowledge the divisive nature of the slogan, the listener complained, when discussing how Labour MP Andy McDonald was suspended from the party from using it in a speech.

Dennis joked that the phrase ‘is a pro-Palestinian chant and coincidently, Thames Water’s sewage discharge policy’.

The Radio 4 listener complained to the BBC that the ‘pro-Palestinian chant’ description  ‘ignored those Palestinians who wished for a peaceful two-state solution as well as disregarding the offensiveness of the phrase to Israelis and reflected bias towards terrorist groups’. 

But ultimately the corporation’s editorial complaints unit ruled that the satirial programme had not breached the BBC’s standards of accuracy and impartiality.

They said: ‘[We] did not consider that, in this context, listeners in general would have expected a precise or nuanced description of the phrase in question, or that they would have been materially misled about its meaning and use’

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Published: 19 Jan 2024

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