An Ofcom investigation into “documentaries” broadcast by the BBC has found that nearly 200 of them were supplied at no cost, with many secretly funded by special interests and with no sponsorship credits to let viewers know of the possibly biased content. (Press Gazette)
In one example the Independent newspaper reported in 2011 that the Malaysian government had paid ironically-named PR company FactBased Communications (FBC) nearly £12 million over two years to make and place content promoting Malaya positively in “factual” and current affairs programmes. BBC World News, that screened eight half-hour programmes supplied by FBC claimed that they had no idea that they were broadcasting paid-for PR, even though it was given to them free. The poor deluded BBC now accepts that FBC was “not an appropriate producer” for BBC World News.
Also examined by Ofcom was the World Business series of programmes that FBC paid CNN an annual seven figure dollar fee from 2008 to 2011 to broadcast. It found that CNN presenter John Defterios was a director and president of FBC during this time and that the coverage breached impartiality rules.