Tag Archive: BBC

“BBC labeled “yoga” as “fad” in 2013; BBC also labeled Hindu festival of Holi as “filthy festival”

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Hindus cautiously welcome BBC's "change of heart" on religious programming

Hindus have cautiously welcomed the ambitious and wide-ranging British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) plans to enhance coverage of religion with a pluralistic approach.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed; commenting on the detailed "BBC Religion & Ethics Review" released by its Director General Tony Hall on December 20; in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, welcomed BBC's idea of "improving religious literacy inside and outside the BBC", calling it a step in the positive direction.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, hoped that BBC would project and portray Hinduism in its future programming accurately instead of reimagining Hinduism concepts and traditions to fit its agendas. Moreover, BBC should show fairness to "other" religions which it desperately failed to do in the past despite tall claims.

Hinduism had been highly underserved at BBC in the past; Rajan Zed stressed and added that things might be better if Hall and BBC seriously and honestly implemented what was claimed in this new review.

Zed pointed out that multi-culturalism had been fast growing in United Kingdom (UK) and it was now a diverse society formed of various religions and denominations and non-believers, but BBC had not kept pace with it. Hindus deserved more airtime at BBC and live aarti broadcasts from major Hindu temples in UK should regularly feature in BBC schedules. It was time for the disproportionate religious output at BBC to end, giving way to evenly distributed time/space on TV-radio-online among various religions/denominations/non-believers.

BBC should also ensure adequate coverage of Diwali, Holi, Krishna Janmashtami, Maha Shivaratri, Ram Navami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Navaratri, Duserra, Hanuman Jayanti, Makar Sankranti, Yugadi and other Hindu festivals; Rajan Zed noted.

Hymns from ancient Sanskrit scriptures, contemporary bhajans and Hindu sermons should regularly form part of BBC One's over 56 years old "Songs of Praise" program, one of the world's longest-running religious television series. Hindu hymns, songs and faith stories were also highly inspiring, warm and engaging; and moreover, God liked all songs-of-praise, irrespective of the religion these came from, Zed indicated.

Rajan Zed further said that BBC, being "a public service broadcaster funded by the licence fee paid by UK households", including the Hindu households, should have been more responsible and inclusive in its religious programming. It should not ignore and sideline "other" faiths in its content and productions, and across its various channels and services.

Zed stated that BBC; whose "values" included "celebrate our diversity" and "great things happen when we work together"; and whose "purposes" included "reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities"; should show some maturity/responsibility/accountability in handling religion appropriately. BBC should take religion more seriously, and help us build interconnections and create harmony.

We pray that BBC gets the religion right, Rajan Zed adds.

BBC labeled "yoga" as "fad" in 2013. BBC also labeled Hindu festival of Holi as "filthy festival" in 2012 to which it apologized later. BBC has been blamed in the past for racism, imperialist stance, Indophobic bias, anti-Hindu bigotry, anti-American bias, etc.

Launched in October 1922, headquartered in London, and established by a Royal Charter; BBC claims to be the "world's leading public service broadcaster". Every UK viewer needs to have a TV License, which costs £147.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion in the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

BBC publishes equal pay audit and pay gap report

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A BBC report reveals that it pays male staff an average ten per cent more than female, and promises to ban same-sex interview panels to get to grips with a lack of women in senior roles.

Earlier this year, comedian and actor Sir Lenny Henry told MPs that media watchdog OfCom was practising "fake diversity" with its targets.

He said: "Ofcom say they will set the BBC targets for on screen diversity but will not set targets for diversity behind the camera. They suggest that as long as we have a BAME person on the TV screen, giving the appearance of diversity, then it is absolutely OK. This is fake diversity," he said.

A newly published study of the BBC corporation’s wages showed a 9.3 per cent median pay gap and 10.7 per cent mean between men and women, created largely by fewer senior management roles taken up by females.

It follows widespread condemnation for a significant gender gap in the pay of its stars, with two-thirds of its “talent” paid more than £150,000 being men.

According to the report, 59 per cent of staff in the lowest four-grade jobs are women, compared to the same figure in the top two grades and senior managers being men.

The BBC’s audited gender pay gap reveals it is 9.3 percent against a national average of 18.1 per cent and that its BAME pay gap, which is significantly lower at 0.4 percent.

The audit has been overseen by Sir Patrick Elias (a former Court of Appeal judge) and conducted by consultancy firm PwC and legal firm Eversheds.

In his review, Sir Patrick Elias said: “The conclusion in the report that there is no systemic discrimination against women in the BBC’s pay arrangements for these staff is, in my judgment, amply borne out by the statistical evidence and is further supported by the analysis of particular cases carried out by Eversheds.”

The BBC commissioned the equal pay audit of its staff (broadly speaking those who are not senior managers, on air editors, presenters or correspondents) to determine whether there are any systemic issues in how it pays men and women.

A separate review into the BBC’s approach to on-air presenters, editors and correspondents (who are engaged on a variety of different contracts) will conclude by the end of the year. This will also be part of a much broader piece of work looking at how the BBC addresses issues related to the list of talent paid more than £150,000 so that it is more representative of the audiences it serves.

The BBC is not complacent and the management response sets out a range of actions we are taking as we strive to be best in class on fair pay. These include improving transparency on how pay is set, access for staff to specialist advice if people have questions about pay, ensuring managers review pay in their team every six months to ensure fairness, and ending single-sex panels for job interviews, as well as striving for diverse shortlists for jobs.

Director General, Tony Hall, said: “Fairness in pay is vital. We have pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020 and have targets for equality and diversity on our airwaves. We have done a lot already, but we have more to do.

“While today’s reports show that we are in a better place than many organisations, I want a BBC that is an exemplar not just in the media but in the country - when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation - and what can be achieved. This is an essential part of modernising the BBC. And, if the BBC is to truly reflect the public it serves, then the makeup of our staff must reflect them."

While the BBC is making real progress, there is much work to do - not least on presenter pay and representation - and the BBC will update on progress by the end of the year.



BBC’s Targets

- 48% of staff are women (2020 target 50%)

- 42% of leadership are women (2020 target 50%)

- Target for 50:50 gender split in lead roles on air across all genres by 2020.

- 14.5% of staff are BAME (2020 target 15%)

- 10.3% leadership are BAME (2020 target 15%)

- Target for 15% BAME on screen, on air and in lead roles across all genres by 2020

- Target for 8% disabled people on screen and on-air including some lead roles by 2020.

- Tony Hall has also committed to closing the gender pay gap by 2020.



BBC sacks Tommy Sandhu following row over texts

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Tommy Sandhu one of at least four Asian Network staff sacked over WhatsApp messages

BBC have fired star Asian Network radio host Tommy Sandhu, following a row over racist and sexual slurs which were sent amongst fellow BBC workers.

Sandhu 40, who also fronted BBC 1’s Sunday Morning Live, was first suspended last month when it first emerged of these vile phone messages.

At least four other Asian Network staff used WhatsApp to share sexual comments about female colleagues as well as homophobic slurs and derogatory terms for Pakistanis.

Producer Kejaj Kamani was sacked last month, fellow producer Asheesh Sharma has also been given a final warning.

WhatsApp is an encrypted service but these messages were accidentally linked to a BBC laptop where they were found by Assistant Producer Amanpreet Kaur, who the men also made sexist comments about.

Another victim of these lewd remarks is Amy Elizabeth Childs, 31 who is a Radio One Xtra producer who has aspirations of becoming a DJ.

Sandhu is known to have been part of the WhatsApp group, however BBC will not disclose as to whether he actually made any of the obscene remarks.

He has proclaimed his innocence throughout and has been seeking advice. The BBC are yet to comment on his ‘sacking’.

BBC Asian Network scandal: Star host Tommy Sandhu suspended and others sacked for racist slurs including those towards Pakistanis

BBC Asian Network scandal: Star host Tommy Sandhu suspended and others sacked for racist slurs including those towards Pakistanis

BBC suspends Asian Network DJ Tommy Sandhu,40, over lewd sexist comments, homophobic remarks and racist slurs

BBC suspends Asian Network DJ Tommy Sandhu,40, over lewd sexist comments, homophobic remarks and racist slurs


According to insiders, one of the men suggested they refuse to play any music by Pakistanis, on the breakfast show, referring to them derogatively as ‘Pakis’

The BBC has suspended one of its most-celebrated DJs from its Asian Network in a row over online messages scattered with lewd comments and racist slurs against Pakistanis.

Host Tommy Sandhu, 40, was one of at least four colleagues allegedly part of the WhatsApp groups. They shared sexist comments as well as homophobic remarks calling one colleague a ‘batty boy’ and another a ‘gandu’ – slang for anus and a derogatory term for a homosexual. They also accused a fellow radio host of being gay, even though he is married.

According to insiders, one of the men suggested they refuse to play any music by Pakistanis, on the breakfast show, referring to them derogatively as ‘Pakis’, even though the network was set up to cater for people from all South Asian groups.

The BBC Asian Network, according to latest figures, costs around £7.5million a year to run and is listened to by nearly 650,000 people a week.

It is not clear how many people were part of the secret messaging groups but along with Tommy Sandhu they included Asheesh Sharma and Kejal Kamani - two radio producers who routinely join Tommy Sandhu on air, and a disc jockey known as DJ Sachy.

Sources close to Tommy Sandhu claim he did not make derogatory comments himself.

So far, Asheesh Sharma has been given a final written warning and Kejal Kamani has been fired, it is understood. According to insiders, DJ Sachy, who has worked at the station as a freelance for years, has been told he will not get any more shifts.

Another message referred to BBC entertainment reporter Haroon Rashid as a ‘Paki’. When one of the men did some work with Noreen Khan, another BBC Asian Network DJ, they were asked on the messaging group “have them Pakis converted you?”, according to sources.

The group made vile sexist comments about female Asian Network staff, including young assistant producer Amanpreet Kaur and homophobic remarks in the chat.

The WhatsApp messaging platform is highly encrypted and supposed to be impossible to crack, but these messages were accidentally linked to a BBC laptop where a member of staff stumbled across them.

Sources said the BBC has opened a major investigation and has already taken disciplinary action against some of those involved.

Now London-born Tommy Sandhu is now currently fighting to save his job at the BBC, where he is also an occasional host of The One Show and BBC1’s religious and current affairs show Sunday Morning Live!

Those caught up in the BBC Asian Network scandal have been warned not to speak to the press.

Broadcasting union Bectu has also warned members not to discuss the matter.

A BBC spokesman said: “We never comment on matters concerning any individuals working with the BBC. Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour would always be taken extremely seriously and would be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.”

In 2010, the BBC Asian Network was nearly shut when it was pulling in just 477,000 listeners a week. The station was reprieved on the proviso it boosted ratings and slashed its budget.

BBC under fire over gender pay gap among top earners

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The tax payer-funded BBC was compelled by the government to publish the salaries of on-air talent, which had previously been secret

The tax payer-funded BBC was compelled by the government to publish the salaries of on-air talent, which had previously been secret


The BBC is facing calls for equal pay for women after published figures suggested a gender disparity in salaries paid to its top talent.

The corporation’s first ever list of its stars’ salaries has revealed that its top earning male personality was paid at least four times as much as its highest-paid female.

The annual report shows that Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans earned more than £2,200 000 million while Strictly Come Dancing co-host Claudia Winkleman, the highest female earner, is ranked in the pay bracket of £450,000-£499,999.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the BBC needed to look at the issue of gender pay disparities.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader and former equalities minister Jo Swinson said the figures should act as a “really strong wake-up call”.

Meanwhile, one legal expert predicted that the BBC could be hit with a wave of equal pay claims from female stars.

Of the 96 names on the list of talent earning over £150,000, only 34 are female.

The One Show presenter Alex Jones was the only other woman to make the top ten, with a salary of between £400,000-£449,999.

The tax payer-funded BBC was compelled by the government to publish the salaries of on-air talent, which had previously been secret.

Match of The Day presenter Gary Lineker was the second highest paid on £1.75m.

Half of all the women named on the list are in the £150,000-£199,999 band. A total of 17 women appear in this band, along with 22 men.

Prime Minister Theresa May voiced her opinion on LBC as she criticised the BBC for paying women less than men for doing the same job and insisted the organisation must continue publishing its top salaries to prove it is tackling the problem.

Mrs May told the radio station it was important the BBC “looks at the whole question of how they pay women and how they pay men for doing the same job”.

Ms Swinson said the gender pay gap needed to be eliminated “as quickly possible”.

“Making gender pay gap data transparent is vital to pierce the bubble of complacency in organisations,” she said.

“That is why I was so determined in 2015 to win the fight in government to introduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting.

“That means that not only do we know the picture in the BBC, soon we will be able to see how other media organisations compare.”

But Paula Chan, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said high-profile female stars would be examining the figures closely.

“These figures expose what appears to be a deeply troubling disparity in pay between men and women at one of the UK’s most prominent publicly funded institutions, suggesting the pay gap within the BBC may be more significant than feared,” she said.

“We anticipate a number of high-profile female employees will now be examining the figures and demanding an explanation as to why they are being paid less than their male colleagues. If the justification isn’t satisfactory, equal pay claims may be taken which would not only be costly but incredibly damaging to the standing and reputation of the BBC.”

Great British Buy Off: BBC’S Bake Off will move to Channel 4

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THE BIG MOVE: Mel and Sue will ‘not be following the dough’ when the programme moves to Channel 4 (Pic Cred: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon)

THE BIG MOVE: Mel and Sue will ‘not be following the dough’ when the programme moves to Channel 4 (Pic Cred: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon)

The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) has announced that it will be moving to Channel 4 after a last-ditch meeting on Monday with the BBC proved the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation couldn’t afford to keep them on.

 With five million viewers under the age of 34, GBBO will no doubt entice advertisers at its new home which will air the next series in 2017.

The BBC fell £10 million short of the amount of money required to keep the hit baking show.

The corporation is thought to have offered £15m per year to keep the programme on the BBC but Love Productions, who make the show, refused to entertain any offers below £25 million per year.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said: “We have no plans to change the incredibly successful format of the show which is much loved by viewers.”

Richard McKerrow, Love Productions' creative director, said the firm had found ‘the perfect new home for Bake Off’ at Channel 4.

Presenters Mel Perkins and Sue Giedroyc are ‘not following the dough’ and new hosts are to be lined up.

They said in a statement: “We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was... we're not going with the dough.”

GBBO was 2015's most-watched programme, with 15.1 million viewers for the final, according to figures which include catch-up viewing.

Twitter has been in uproar about the move. David Barnes @DRB said: “In its greed, Love Productions has killed its golden goose and left C4 with a turkey.”

Tia ‏@tiaisanoob  said: “First Brexit, now this! I don't want to be British anymore.”

Esme ‏@esmetodd  said: “Mel and Sue dropping out of bake off is the first step towards a ruined show.”

Charlotte Spruzen ‏@_spruzie  said: “Oh dear god, what if Bake Off is on ITV and they replace Mel and Sue with Ant and Dec??? Forget cake, I'd be putting my head in the oven.”

The seventh series is currently being shown on BBC One on Wednesday evenings. Over 10 million viewers tuned in for the opening episode.

The format has been sold to broadcasters around the world, with France, Brazil, Australia, Ukraine, Denmark, India and Turkey all showing their own versions of the show.

Bake off bigotry: TV contestant receives online hate messages

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RACIAL SLURS: BBC’s Great British Bake off contestant Rav Bansal has  received racial slurs on social media  (Pic cred: BBC/Love Productions/Mark  Bourdillon)

RACIAL SLURS: BBC’s Great British Bake off contestant Rav Bansal has received racial slurs on social media (Pic cred: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon)

The Great British Bake Off is back again and people up and down the country are talking about scones, bread and buns.

However, for some of the contestants on the show, their sugary step into the limelight comes at a price.

28-year-old Rav Bansal, a contestant on this year’s show, has revealed on Twitter that he was asked whether he was a ‘P-ki’ by a stranger who referred to the show as the ‘not-so-British Bake Off’.

Bansal, a Sikh who lives in Erith, Kent with his parents and works at City University, was supported by his fellow contestants, who immediately showed their support in condemning the comments.

Last year's winner, Nadiya Hussain – a British Muslim -has also spoken frankly about racist insults she suffered both on and offline.

TALKING BACK ON TWITTER: Rav revealed he has been called a ‘p***’ by online trolls

TALKING BACK ON TWITTER: Rav revealed he has been called a ‘p***’ by online trolls

Rav’s BBC profile states that he volunteers for charities including Victim Support, has an extremely close family and enjoys vegan baking.

Benjamina Ebuehi, one of his fellow amateur bakers, replied to his tweet about the abuse, saying it was ‘so horrible’. 

Another contestant, Selasi Gbormittah, wrote: “What is happening?”

The show has received record ratings this year, achieving more than 10 million overnight viewers for each of its first two episodes.

The opening episode is now the most-watched show of 2016, with 13.6m views so far.

No more free TV: Students to pay for iPlayer service

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 LICENSE: Students will now need to pay for online streaming sites like BBC’s iPlayer

LICENSE: Students will now need to pay for online streaming sites like BBC’s iPlayer

The start of the academic year will bring many changes for students, including - for the first time - the need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer.

A change in the law means as of 1st September 2016, a licence will be needed to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer.

Research by TV Licensing has revealed iPlayer is the most popular catch up platform used by students, ahead of sites such as YouTube and services including Netflix.

The survey confirms two in three students view catch up TV, with many watching on demand programmes.

With less than a quarter of students - or 22 per cent - taking a TV with them to university, online viewing on mobile devices has become by far the favoured way of consuming catch up TV content.

Watching TV remains an integral part of university life with 84 per cent of students finding it gives them the chance to relax on their own and more than half, 60 per cent, citing TV viewing as a great opportunity to unwind with friends.

Caroline McCourt, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said: “Watching catch up TV is really popular among students and we want to make sure students are aware of the change in law. From 1st September, everyone will need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch BBC TV programmes on demand – including catch up – on iPlayer.

“Students can check at our dedicated TV Licence for students page whether they are correctly licensed before the big move.”

People will still need to be covered by a licence for all live viewing and recording, no matter which channel you are watching or what device you are watching on.

Students who already have a licence will be covered automatically. Those who do not will need a licence from 1st September to watch BBC programmes on demand on BBC iPlayer, including where iPlayer is accessed through another provider such as Sky or Virgin.

A licence will not be needed to watch other on demand services, such as ITV Player or Netflix. This applies to all devices, including a smart TV, desktop computer or laptop, mobile phone, tablet, digital box or games console.

In limited circumstances, students can be covered by the licence at their parents’ address. The device must be powered by its own internal batteries – e.g. a tablet or mobile phone - and must not be plugged it into the mains when receiving television. This use is enabled by the Regulations governing TV Licensing.

If you are at university and want to find out more, contact an adviser over the phone on 0300 790 6113.

A matter of expression: BBC should use ‘Daesh’ instead of ‘so-called Islamic State’

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GIVING UNWARRANTED STATUS: Labour MP, Andy Burnham, has criticised the BBC’s use of words to describe the jihadist militant group

GIVING UNWARRANTED STATUS: Labour MP, Andy Burnham, has criticised the BBC’s use of words to describe the jihadist militant group

Muslim leaders believe the BBC is making it harder for them to counter radicalisation by referring to ‘so-called Islamic State’ when referencing their activities, Labour MP Andy Burnham has reiterated this week.

The Shadow Home Secretary and Labour candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester renewed pressure on the broadcaster to use Daesh as an alternative description of the terror group, which rose to prominence after seizing large areas of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

He insisted the broadcaster’s current description gives a ‘status’ to the radical militant group, which refers to itself as Islamic State, that it does not deserve.

Home Office minister, John Hayes, said the use of the term ‘so-called’ for organisations creates ‘entirely the wrong impression’, as he vowed to telephone and write to the BBC asking for change.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Burnham said: “I know the BBC has taken to using the phrase 'so-called Islamic State'. In my view, that is not helpful.

“The use of the word 'so-called' does not undermine the following words 'Islamic' or 'State' but these are the two words that the public hears.

“It gives a status to this organisation that they don't deserve and also it makes it sound as though they are an authorised branch of Islam.

“I would urge the BBC director general to review this editorial decision and to move, as the Government has done, to the use of the title Daesh.”

Mr Burnham later told Mr Hayes: “I've been in mosques recently where, I can say, it causes a great despondency amongst people there working to try and counter radicalisation.

“They say that the use of the word 'so-called' does not undermine 'Islamic' nor the word 'state' and the BBC repeating this is only making their job harder and they feel very strongly about this.”

Ruth’s refugee recital: BBC voiceover call for local student

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NARRATING: Selame Negussie was chosen by the BBC to voiceover the animated story of a child refugee

NARRATING: Selame Negussie was chosen by the BBC to voiceover the animated story of a child refugee

A Bradford student, who arrived in the UK as a refugee from Africa during her teenage years, has been selected to voice a BBC cartoon about the plight of other child refugees.

Selame Negussie, who studies at Bradford College, has narrated an animated tale of a 14-year-old girl who, after being forced to flee her home in Eritrea, made the treacherous journey to England.

The short, called ‘Ruth’s Story’, was originally made for CBBC’s Newsround programme and is on the broadcaster’s website.     

In the story, Ruth decides she must leave Eritrea after being told she either had to marry someone she didn't know or join the military.

A harrowing journey by foot, lorry, boat and train through Sudan, Libya, Italy and France saw her eventually reach England, where she now lives with a foster family.

In their search for someone with an East African accent to provide the voiceover, programme makers contacted an Ethiopian restaurant in Leeds, Melkam Megeb, which is run by Selame’s family and the 21-year-old agreed to travel to Media City in Salford for the recording.

Having made the move to the England from Africa - albeit in less traumatic circumstances - and having done volunteer work with refugees in Bradford, Selame was thrilled to have been chosen to help with the educational piece.

“I hope that the children who watch this will become a bit more understanding when they see other children like Ruth, who didn’t speak English when she arrived in England, struggle in school,” she said.

“I hope that instead of laughing at them or mocking them, they can actually help them and become friends with them.

“Fortunately for me I did not go through such horrors, all thanks to God. But I do know of some people who have been through something similar.

“I'm very happy that Ruth is now in a safe place and I hope that her story can be used to voice the voiceless and help put an end to the current immigration crisis.

“The fact that I used my voice to tell the story of the girl from the same background as me felt amazing.”

Selame joined Bradford College in 2013, after moving to the UK. Having successfully attained GCSE and AS Levels at the college she is now on a science course that she hopes will help her progress to study psychology at university.

The cartoon can be seen at www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/36714334

BBC team expelled from North Korea

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EXPELLED: BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team are accused of “speaking very ill” by North Korean officials

EXPELLED: BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team are accused of “speaking very ill” by North Korean officials

BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes expelled from North Korea

North Korea expelled a BBC journalist on over his reporting a North Korean government spokesperson said.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was detained on Friday 6th May as he was about to leave the country. He was taken away for eight hours of questioning and "made to sign a statement", the BBC reported.

The British journalist, accompanied by BBC’s producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard, were intercepted by officials as they were about to leave North Korea.

The BBC team was in North Korea ahead of the Workers' Party Congress, accompanying a delegation of Nobel prize laureates conducting a research trip.

bb BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes expelled fro north korea

The North Korean leadership was displeased with their reports highlighting aspects of life in the capital.

Wingfield-Hayes had "distorted facts and realities" in his coverage, North Korean official Mr O Ryong Il said in announcing that the reporter, who is based in Tokyo, was being expelled and would never be let in again.

"They were speaking very ill of the system, the leadership of the country," said is secretary general of a National Peace Committee, told reporters in Pyongyang, according to a video clip published by the Associated Press.

Another BBC correspondent in Pyongyang, John Sudworth, said in a broadcast report there was "disagreement, a concern over the content of Rupert's reporting", including questioning the authenticity of a hospital.

In his report of a visit to the children's hospital in Pyongyang, Wingfield-Hayes said the patients looked "remarkably well" and there was not a real doctor on duty.

"Everything we see looks like a set-up" he said.

In another report, Wingfield-Hayes noted that his official minders were "rather upset with us" over trying to do a report in front of a statute of founding leader Kim Il Sung.

"They clearly felt we said stuff that was not respectful," of Kim, he said in his report.

The Voice’s Faheem is knocked out

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GOODBYE: Faheem was not picked by Will.i.am to be in his final three but it is not the end of his singing career (Pic credit: YouTube)

GOODBYE: Faheem was not picked by Will.i.am to be in his final three but it is not the end of his singing career (Pic credit: YouTube)

Wibsey singer’s journey on BBC hit show comes to an end

Singing hopeful Faheem Ashraf, 22, from Wibsey, was knocked out of BBC1’s The Voice on Saturday, just missing out on the live shows.

His mentor, Will.i.am – from The Black Eyed Peas fame – had took a shine to Faheem’s voice right from the start, and span around within seconds of hearing his blind audition.

He was then picked over team-mate Aaron Hill in the battle round, but his rendition of Jermaine Stewart's ‘We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off’ was not enough to earn a place in Team Will’s final three.

Faheem was still ebullient on social media and said on Facebook: “I've loved every single minute of being a part of The Voice UK!

“Although I didn't get the chance to sing anything that represented me as an artist, I did my absolute best to step up to every single challenge that was given- and can happily say that I did myself proud.

“Thank you so much for all your support, and please stay with me! This is just the beginning! Here's to a magical 2016!

Faheem is still recovering from a broken leg, which he suffered during a mishap in a nightclub when celebrating getting through to the next stage of The Voice a few weeks back.

He still has plans on making a singing career for himself in the very near future. Watch this space!

Singing sensation from Bradford gets popstars’ chairs swinging

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FAHEEM SHOOTS TO FAME: Faheem has both the looks and the voice to go all the way

FAHEEM SHOOTS TO FAME: Faheem has both the looks and the voice to go all the way

Wibsey warbler wows Will.i.am

Twenty-one-year-old Bradford-born singer, Faheem Ashraf, had the judges' chairs spinning around faster than a vinyl record player set to the rotational speed of 78 RPM on Saturday night.

Dressed in double denim, a straw trilby and sparkling ear-rings that matched the twinkle in his eye, Faheem looked the part as he took to the stage on BBC1's 'The Voice'. But did he have the voice to match the vision?

The four judges - Will.i.am, Boy George, Paloma Faith and Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson- were blind to his 'pop perfect' presentation as they faced the other way in their red thrones, and it was purely down to Faheem's pitch-perfect performance that had two of them fighting to be his coach.

As the mellifluous notes of 'Marvin Gaye' - by Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor - played out into the studio during his audition, it only took two seconds for Will.i.am to boing his beeper.

The superstar judge, who used to sing in the Black Eyed Peas, said to Faheem: "You have some freakin' awesome tones. I only needed to hear the first three words and I was like 'bam!' You're like John Legend, you have that magic."

Ricky Wilson, who also turned - using his foot to fly around (due to his rock and roll nature) - said: "It usually takes an extraordinary male voice for me, and you have that. I'm fighting for this."

In the end, Faheem went with Will.i.am. He told the Asian Express: "I didn't pick fellow Yorkshire-man Ricky because from watching the show for years, I have always wanted to work with Will because he has experience of the music genre that I fall under.

"When Will mentioned John Legend I was like, 'Wow, that's such a big comparison!' and that kind of quality is where I want to be at, and falls exactly under the genre that I want to be developing in."

Faheem continued: "I've not slept much for the past few days since my performance. It's been a bit mental.

"I've been singing ever since I can remember, probably since I was eight-years-old. It wasn't until I was 14 though, when my mum overheard me and started encouraging me, that I did something with it. She gave me the courage and confidence that I needed to sing publically."

Faheem has been raised in a very musical family. He said: "My grandad was a singer and my mum always wanted to be a singer, so I've grown up listening to my mum sing all the time. Then she had my older sister and she had to give up the dream.

"I don't sing like anyone in my family, my voice is really unique to me. I have been asked by other journalists, 'you don't sound like an Asian singer, have you done that on purpose?' and to that I've said, 'not at all, it's just the way my voice has developed'.  It's just really strange."

BEEPING BRILLIANT: Faheem received a buzzing reception from the judges on BBC1’s ‘The Voice’

BEEPING BRILLIANT: Faheem received a buzzing reception from the judges on BBC1’s ‘The Voice’

Faheem picked the song, 'Marvin Gaye' because his voice usually suits piano ballads and big, expansive songs.

He continued: "I had a meeting with the production team and they wanted me to sing a more current song, rather than singing, say, an old Stevie Wonder song.

"They wanted me to really push myself to do something that I wouldn't usually do and said that I didn't realise what I could do with my voice, that I thought I could only sing in one way. It was the production team who pushed me to be more of an artist.

"I knew it was a risk because there are a lot of people out there that don't like the song because it's been played so many times. All the feedback that I've had has been amazing though, so I'm glad that I did it.

"I write my own material too, I've been writing songs since I was a kid. I've got a music video coming out soon, over the next four weeks hopefully. It's time to start pumping my own music out there now."

Long live the dream, Faheem.

Great British Hate Off: Nadiya received racist threats after BBC baking victory

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WHISKING UP A WONDER: Nadiya is Queen of the cakes, but has unfortunately had to deal with racist trolls online (Photo Credit: BBC/Love Productions)

WHISKING UP A WONDER: Nadiya is Queen of the cakes, but has unfortunately had to deal with racist trolls online (Photo Credit: BBC/Love Productions)

Baking beauty Nadiya Hussain’s win on the Great British Bake Off last October was celebrated by the country as a triumph for multi-cultural Britain.

Three months on, the 31-year-old has spoken about how she became a target for racist threats that became so upsetting that she needed a police guard at her home.

ITV’S Loose Women invited the mother-of-three on their show to talk to panellists.

Nadiya explained how she was bombarded with insults and abuse over her religion by anti-Islamic trolls on Twitter.

Her concern over the nasty comments led her to believe that her family could be in danger. After receiving the threats, she called police officers to her home.

Mrs Hussain, her husband Abdal, 34, and their children have since moved to a new home in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

She said: “There was quite a lot of negativity on Twitter.

“I tried really hard not to look at it. My husband is one of those who has to read everything, so he sat there and read everything.

“You can do two things, and the old me would have very much regretted everything, and there were times when I thought, 'What have I done? Am I putting my kids in danger?' and he was always the one to just say, 'It's OK. They're such a minority and it doesn't matter'.

“And if anything, I proved to myself that I can have the confidence not to care what people think.

“For me, that's what came out of it all.”

Loose Women host Ruth Langsford said Mrs Hussain had become a ‘poster girl’ for ‘being British and being a Muslim’ which had in turn become ‘quite nasty’.

Mrs Hussain said her family were not intimidated by the threats.

“It was scary but my kids loved it,” she added. “They were like, 'Ooh, policemen.”

Nadiya’s management declined to comment further.

Since winning the Bake Off, Nadiya has become a columnist for The Times Magazine and has signed a publishing deal with Penguin Random House. The recipe book in the pipeline is expected to hit shelves in June.

Shipley schoolboy Ubayd Rehman lands top acting role in BBC sitcom

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 RISING STAR: Ubayd Rehman with Citizen Khan

RISING STAR: Ubayd Rehman with Citizen Khan

Bradford teen becomes part of the Citizen Khan crew

A Bradford teenager from Shipley has been scooped up by the BBC for their top British sitcom, Citizen Khan.

Ubayd Rehman, 13, has already had a string of successful acting roles in his short career, including his involvement in last year's chilling BBC1 drama ‘Remember Me’, alongside Michael Palin.

Since then, he has continued brushing up his acting skills at Articulate Speech, Drama & Casting, based in Baildon.

Owner of the enterprise, Stacey Burrows said: “Earlier this year we were thrilled that Ubayd had aced yet another audition. Ubayd has a lot of natural talent, but constantly works very hard in his weekly drama lessons.

“I had the pleasure of being invited to watch Ubayd, amongst a packed audience, at the live recordings of the [Citizen Khan] show in Manchester. I couldn't believe how entertaining he was. Ubayd and the rest of the cast had the audience in stitches.

“Ubayd's comedy timing was perfect. His determination, intelligence and wit will take him far, and I certainly think we will be seeing more of him.”

ACTING TALENT: The talented teen is a natural behind the camera

ACTING TALENT: The talented teen is a natural behind the camera

Ubayd’s mum, Makdas Rehman added: “The auditions took place in the summer. The casting director was really pleased with him and he got the part.

“We went to London for location filming for one day in the summer holidays. Then he had a week filming the live show in Media City in Manchester. It was a really good experience for him.”

The days were long but that didn’t put off Ubayd’s enthusiasm.

Makdas continued: “It was a long day for Ubayd. He was acting from 9am until 7pm, but he had plenty of breaks.

“The crew were really supportive. They invited him to be a member of the audience - to see what it was like and to see what was expected of him. He also had the experience of observing rehearsals.”

When Ubayd got the role, he told his mum that it was ‘his dream job’.

The young acting ace played the part of Faraz, the nephew of the Khan’s, who comes to stay with the family when his parents went away on holiday.

“He obviously loves Citizen Khan,” said Makdas, “it was huge for him, personally.

“He was thrilled to meet Tyger Drew-Honey [from the BBC comedy ‘Outnumbered’] because he was in one of the episodes as well. We had some fantastic pictures taken with him.

“The producers at Citizen Khan also took special care of Ubayd. He got lots of freebies and presents. They were always playing board-games with him.

“He was the only child on the show so they made sure that he was never bored. They all joined in and made him feel part of the Khan family.”

BBC One show needs you

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Get reunited with distant family and win up to £30,000

Families in the UK, with relatives living abroad, are being offered the opportunity of a lifetime by a BBC One Saturday night game show, combining a five-star reunion with up to £30,000 in cash prizes.

‘Five Star Family Reunion’, hosted by Nick Knowles, is the BBC’s lottery game show that gives families even more reasons to stay in touch with relatives around the world.

Following a standard competition format, the family overseas must answer questions to win as much time as they possibly can for the family in the UK studio.

That’s because the family in the studio will individually face questions against the show’s high-tension timer in a bid to put money in the bank and bring everyone together.

The BBC is currently looking for families to take part in the competition next year and this is where you come in.

If your family live both in the UK and India, America, Canada, Jamaica, Australia or New Zealand, and you want to be in with a chance of winning an amazing holiday and cash jackpot, then simply follow the application rules below.

Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and close family friends can make up the overseas team, and help you win the five star reunion you have always dreamed about.

If you would like an application form please email: family@12yard.com, or write to: 5 Star Family Reunion, 12 Yard Productions, G7 The Hub, 70 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1DZ.

Closing date for returning application forms is 19th February 2016 and all applicants must be aged 18 years and over.

5 Star Family Reunion is a co-production between 12 Yard Productions and Boom Cymru.

Asian music off BBC radar

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OVERLOOKED: Asian music experts such as Yasser from BBC Asian Network were not invited to be on the panel (Photo: BBC/Joel Anderson)

OVERLOOKED: Asian music experts such as Yasser from BBC Asian Network were not invited to be on the panel (Photo: BBC/Joel Anderson)

Broadcasters slammed over ‘Sound of 2016’ selectors

The much awaited ‘BBC Sound of 2016’ long list has been announced but no sooner has it struck a dissonant chord with one of the country’s leading ethnic music publicists.

Pedro Carvalho has taken issue with the composition of the panel that voted for the top 15 up and coming artistes to look out for in the coming year.

The panel comprised 144 people but Mr Carvalho said there was not a single person who had experience in British Asian music.

“In my opinion, that is a big oversight. Actually it is more than a big oversight if you think that the BBC has a radio station that they pay £2 million or £3 million a year to run and they are not actually considering anybody within that station that is good enough to be on that panel of British Asian music,” he said referring to the British Asian Network.

“They have programmes such as those presented by Yasser on Friday which is all about new British Asian music and not one of those presenters, producers, or anybody in management from that radio station was either on the panel.

“The panel didn’t even consist of anybody from a record company that has British Asian artistes, or any radio station in UK or magazine that would know of such acts that are breaking into mainstream.

“The funny thing is that in previous years they have had people from the BBC Asian Network ... there is something severely wrong with this list.”

In announcing the names on the panel, the BBC said: “Although the panel includes a selection of the BBC’s most respected new music presenters and producers, the majority of the pundits are from newspapers, magazines, blogs, commercial radio & TV.

“This year’s list also includes organisers and bookers for some of the biggest UK music festivals like Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds and T in the Park, plus lead editorial figures and music curators at music streaming services such as YouTube, Spotify and Deezer.

“We hope to represent a huge spectrum of music from across the world, covering a diverse range of musical styles and backgrounds.”

But Mr Carvalho said they fell far short of their intended goal because the list consisted of mainly mainstream people.

“The start of the list is, and I am being very blunt about this, a very White list and very few of them are focused towards any kind of other genre of music other than that which falls into mainstream society,” he added.

“It’s got five or six people from BBC 1 Xtra, very few from other stations such as Capital Xtra but nobody from the BBC Asian Network, nobody from any Asian organisation that has anything to do with Asian artistes and therefore how can it be fair? How can it be equally diverse?

“I would like an answer from the BBC as to why they have not chosen anybody of Asian background who knows about British Asian music breaking into mainstream to sit on the panel?”

The BBC said in a statement; “The BBC Music Sound of 2016 panel is made up of over 140 passionate music industry experts. They represent a broad knowledge of all music genres, including up and coming Asian artists, as their day jobs are to showcase the best of all new music to a wide audience. By not using a predetermined list the ‘Sound Of…’ is open to new artists across all genres.”

#MuslimLivesMatter: Protest against BBC

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North Carolina murders

TRAGIC LOSS: 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, who was Syrian American, his 21-year-old Palestinian American wife, Yusor Mohammad, and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, were killed execution-style by a self-described atheist with a history of harassment and racist intimidation

North Carolina murders: Fathers of slain USA Muslim students maintains “It was a hate crime”

The fathers of the three promising Muslim students shot in their Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA apartment spoke before their funeral on Thursday 12th February, calling on Americans and the rest of the world to understand that they died in a hate crime.

Slain on the Tuesday 10th February night shooting were dental student Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

Craig Hicks - north carolina murders (800x450)

NEIGHBOUR: 41-year-old Craig Hicks has been charged with first degree murder of all three students

Police had said the attack was preceded by a dispute about a long-standing dispute over parking with their neighbour Craig Hicks, 46, who has been formally charged on the murder of the three students.

However, in the wake of the killing of three promising students there has been an outcry about how Western media has failed to cover this story.

The news originally spread fast on social media such as Facebook and Twitter mainly by Muslims and has sparked a worldwide social media and human rights outcry of “Muslim Lives Matter.”

Despite the assumption that Hicks attacked the student over a parking dispute, many from the Muslim global community believe the attack is related to religious or ethnic discrimination. The father of the two women who lost their lives has called it a hate crime.

The women's father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who has a psychiatry practice in Clayton, USA, said regardless of what prompted the shooting, Hicks' underlying animosity toward Barakat and Abu-Salha was based on their religion and culture.

The three students all grew up in Raleigh. The two women graduated from Athens Drive High School, and Barakat graduated from Broughton High School.

They all attended N.C. State University as undergraduates, where they all earned honors. Barakat finished in 2013, and Yusor Abu-Salha graduated last fall. Razan Abu-Salha, a design student, made the dean's list in her first semester in the fall.

Yusor Abu-Salha was to enroll at UNC's dental school next fall, joining her husband there. They planned to open a practice together, but both advocated for global dental health, providing care and supplies to people in the United States and the Middle East. On Jan. 29, Barakat posted a Facebook photo of a Durham project that gave dental supplies and food to more than 75 homeless people this year.

Barakat was scheduled to travel with 10 other dentists this summer to Reyhanli, Turkey. There, they planned to treat Syrian refugee children for urgent dental needs, pass out toothbrushes and toothpaste, and support Turkish dentists and clinics.

 We are saddened by the lack of media coverage in this case, which stands in stark contrast to the wall-to-wall top story coverage that the Paris shootings rightfully received.” - Sabby Dhalu, Organiser of Stand up to Racism 

Anti-racists and Muslim communities protested outside the BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London last week to condemn the BBC’s silence in regard to the horrific shooting of three Muslim people in the USA.

In stark contrast to the Paris shootings, there was no immediate coverage on the murder of the the three Muslim students. It was not headline news or even covered in the main news bulletins.

On the other hand there was widespread coverage on social media, where #MuslimLivesMatter trended - a reference to the racist nature of the attack and the lack of coverage of it.

Sabby Dhalu, Organiser of Stand up to Racism said: "Our condolences and thoughts are with the families and friends of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha,and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

“We support their calls for this to be considered a hate crime. Any loss of life should be treated equally. Muslim people are consistently portrayed as the perpetrators but not the victims of terrorism and hatred.

“We are saddened by the lack of media coverage in this case, which stands in stark contrast to the wall to wall top story coverage that the Paris shootings rightfully received.

“Politicians and influential figures lined up to blame the entire Muslim community for those horrific actions and 'kill all muslims' trended worldwide on twitter without an international outcry.

“We are concerned that attacks against the Muslim community are taking place in a heightened climate of Islamophobia and hatred. We will say loudly and clearly tonight that Muslim lives matter, all attacks of this nature should be brought to justice and receive equal coverage.

Weyman Bennett, Joint National Secretary Unite Against Fascism said: "The prevalence of racism and Islamophobia means that when Muslim and Black people are murdered, their plight is willfully ignored.

“In a modern democracy, the first right is a right to life. 

“To deny Muslim people equal treatment is a reflection of anti-Muslim racism in our society. We must stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. They are today's scapegoats. Tomorrow it will be others."

Largest pro-Gaza protest in history

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Last week witnesses hundreds of thousands of people across the globe united in protest against the crimes committed by the Israeli army upon innocent civilians in Gaza.

Pro-Gaza protest in London 9th August

Pro-Gaza protest in London 9th August

The call for the world-wide pro-Palestinian solidarity came from an organisation known as the ‘Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement’ (BDS).

BDS - a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian organisations, trade unions, networks and NGOs, was initiated by a civil rights group 2005, and pushes for Israel to comply with international law and fights for Palestinian rights.

Promoted as ‘Gaza Calling: Day of Rage’, thousands stood in solidarity for human rights for Gazans across cities around the world on the 8th and 9th August. 

Public frustration continues to pour out through social media against the sluggish reaction by western world-leaders to intervene and bring justice to the Palestinian people.

Supporters of Gaza, demand an end to Israel’s ‘barbaric’ assault on Gaza, and calls on the British government to implement an immediate embargo on arms sales to Israel.

ANGER: Thousands have voiced their frustration with mainstream media on watering down the Israeli Army's killing of innocent civilians in Gaza

ANGER: Thousands have voiced their frustration with the BBC for watering down the Israeli Army's killing of innocent civilians in Gaza

Major mainstream news networks, including the BBC, continue to be slammed for their ‘biased reporting’ and for ‘watering-down’ the horrors of subjected upon innocent Palestinian civilians by the Israeli government.

Although figures are unconfirmed, it’s been estimated that over 200,000 people partook in the London protests. 

The United Kingdom’s largest demonstration for Gaza made history, not only as the biggest protest in solidarity with Palestine in the UK, but also as the largest in the world, at any time in history.

Protestors gathered outside Broadcasting House - headquarters of the BBC, in London and marched to Hyde Park, passing the US Embassy.

Along with London and Glasgow, protests were held in New York, Washington DC, Yemen, Cape Town, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris and other major cities across the globe. 

Yemen, Middle East

Yemen, Middle East

Washington DC, USA

Washington DC, USA

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Paris, France

Paris, France

New York, USA

New York, USA

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany