The BBC: Always disclose the financial interests of the people you interview in the issues they are discussing.

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Thu Dec 19 06:54:13 GMT 2013

The BBC: Always disclose the financial interests of the people you
interview in the issues they are discussing. 

Petition by George Monbiot, Oxford, United Kingdom

This is important because the BBC is widely seen as an impartial source
of information which has not been captured by corporate interests. But
its lack of candour about its contributors makes this an unsafe

Almost every day, BBC news and current affairs programmes give airtime
to organisations that call themselves “think tanks”, but which refuse to
reveal their financial interests.

People representing the think tanks often speak on issues of great
interest to corporations, without declaring whether or not they are
being paid by them. A recent example is an interview on the Today
programme with Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute of Economic
Affairs, about the plain packaging of cigarettes. Neither Today nor
Littlewood revealed that the institute has been taking money for many
years from British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco

In response to complaints, the BBC has refused to accept that it should
reveal the relevant interests of its contributors, even though its
failure to do so breaches its own editorial guidelines. It seems to
believe that listeners should not be told that someone arguing against
the tougher regulation of tobacco sales is funded by the tobacco
industry. It allows people who appear to act as corporate lobbyists to
pose as independent pundits.

While we believe that anyone who is honest about their interests should
be allowed to speak, we call on the BBC not to give airtime on
controversial issues to organisations which refuse to say who funds
them. The financial interests of any contributors in the issue under
discussion should be disclosed, and mentioned when they are introduced.


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at
website -
public key -
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