'Newsnight' admits to reordering scenes
LONDON — After last week’s groveling apology to Queen Elizabeth II, the BBC has been caught up in yet another embarrassing dispute over the editing of footage.
The latest controversy surrounds a 12-minute sequence in BBC2 current affairs program “Newsnight,” which aired on June 26. Shot by independent filmmaker Jamie Campbell, the sequence looked at the difficulties in securing access to Gordon Brown, recently selected to be U.K. prime minister, during the Labour Party leadership contest.
The Treasury, the U.K. finance ministry that Brown headed before his elevation, has expressed its anger at the re-ordered of footage to cast a Brown press officer in a poor light.
In the film, Campbell is first shown being blocked by a Brown staffer in his attempts to catch Brown on the hop, and then, in a later section, searched by police under the counter-terrorism act after the Brown entourage seem to call police.
The BBC has confirmed the two events actually took place in reverse order but insisted that “the sequences would have had the same meaning if we had run them in the reverse order.”
Last week, Mark Thompson, BBC director general, came under sustained fire in the press when it emerged that footage of the Queen leaving a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz in a fly-on-the-wall BBC documentary incorrectly made it appear she was storming out in a huff.
The BBC has made a formal apology to the monarch and Thompson has sent an email to staff saying the pubcaster cannot “allow even a small number of lapses, whether intentional or as a result of sloppiness, to undermine our reputation.”
All TV producers working for or attached to the BBC have been urged to admit any similar mistakes they might have made dating back to January 2005.
And it is not just the BBC feeling the heat over misleading viewers.
Channel 4 Monday acknowledged that a scene in Gordon Ramsay’s TV series “The F Word” was mocked up to make it look like the fiery chef had speared fish on a fishing expedition.
Ramsay’s manly cover was blown when fisherman Dave O’Callaghan, a spearfishing expert, told the Sunday Times it was he not Ramsay who had caught the fish.
“We regret that viewers may feel they were let down on this occasion,” a Channel 4 spokeswoman said.
“Regrettably, it appears that one part of the sea bass videotape gave viewers an inaccurate impression about Gordon’s involvement.”