Earlier this week on Tuesday, the offices of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Delhi and Mumbai faced Income Tax Department surveys in relation to alleged tax evasion and irregularities in international tax payments and TDS transactions.
Weeks before the I-T surveys, BBC was already in midst of a controversy for its documentary on the Gujarat riots. The documentary titled ‘India: The Modi Question’, traced the political rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and showed his government's response to the Gujarat riots of 2022.
The government of India took swift action on the two-part documentary and blocked it on social media platforms YouTube and Twitter using emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules 2021.
The Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi hit back at the documentary saying, "If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it,"
In 1927, the British parliament turned it into a corporation and made it answerable to the parliament by a Royal charter. Even though the BBC is answerable to the government, it runs independently.
This, however, is not the first time that BBC found itself in midst of a controversy for its content on sensitive issues.
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BBC's previous controversial work on India
Two BBC documentaries titled- Calcutta and Phantom India -- were released in 1970. The documentaries that attempted to portray everyday life in India received major backlash from Indian diaspora and the Indian government for showing India in a negative light.
Following this BBC was expelled from India for two years. Again, the BBC was expelled from India in 1975 when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a national emergency.
More recently, in 2008, BBC came into controversy for fake footage of child labour in cloth workshop in Bengaluru.
BBC controversies outside India
The BBC faced backlash for its 1995 interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir. A big hit globally at that time, it later was found that the interview was based on fake documents.
BBC's Bashir had presented fake documents to Earl Spencer to take him into confidence. Spencer had introduced Bashir to Diana.
The Conservatives in Britain have often accused BBC of having a bias against them and being more lenient towards left or liberals.
Many party members of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher publicly called out the BBC for “being biased against her”.
The BBC has also often been accused for its “anti-Brexit” coverage of the 2016 referendum.
In the 2019 general elections, the BBC came into controversy for allegedly favouring Boris Johnson.
Non-inclusive and discriminatory
A study by University of Leeds in 2006, called the BBC “institutionally homophobic” towards “lesbians and gays, references to them, or related issues”.
The BBC was accused of "institutional discrimination" and unbalanced reporting on issues relating to the transgender community in 2020 by 150 people including a member of the British parliament.