Iqbal Tamimi – Would you trust the BBC?


Are you seeking employment with BBC? Look in the mirror carefully and ask yourself two very important questions, am I white enough? And am I passive enough and there is no record of me on the internet being ‘media or human rights troublesome’? If the answer is NO but you still insist on trying your luck, I would advise you to get ready to waste your breath, time and effort, because the BBC has its own agenda regarding employment.

Once upon a time BBC was the calibre of an almost perfect media creature, a reference of what a comprehensive and trustworthy source of media should be. Even when we used to hear any news about something in our own society in the so-called ‘third’ world, the wise people like my father would say .”..tune to BBC and find out if that was true.” It was the perfect reliable source of media…but not anymore.

This time I am going to skip all the bias analysis it has developed, its shoulder tilting to one side because of the heavy tendency to bear one side’s protection, and its shouting vocabulary of pick and choose of different terms to steer the public and ‘help them’ to identify who is the guilty side without giving the consumer of such big fat manipulations the chance to make up his own mind about who should he side with.

This time I am talking about employment issues. And this is from my own personal experience.

Last year everyone was screaming that there is not enough diversity in the British media, so BECTU and BBC News organized something under the title MOVING UP …and it was supposed to be the first news diversity event on 21 September at the TUC in London.

The event was supposed to help address the under-representation of ‘black and minority’ ethnic (BME) workers in news. I thought to myself, “Yeeees we are moving up girl.”

They claimed more than 70 news executives, including the Director of BBC News, Helen Boaden and David Mannion, would be there for one-to-one meetings with BME professionals who are seeking to progress their careers.

I shouted, “Hallelujah…that’s it; this is my chance to find a job after failing to find one in the North West.” I started to exchange emails through the mentioned email for almost 2 months ahead of the event. The deadline for applications was set Friday 20 July 2007, especially after reading the very encouraging screaming call on the website…

“Let’s face it, the news business is still overwhelmingly white and middle class.”


I had done all it takes, I received an email that I would be one of those lucky people who will be given the chance to meet the people who can fix our careers at BBC, and also it was mentioned clearly that we should not expect any employment proposals, but still, I was desperate enough to gamble with the very little I had. I rearranged my agenda to be in London that day, booked the train tickets and the accommodation ahead of time because I did not want to miss such an important opportunity, and since the first train would arrive late, I had to arrive one day ahead so that I would not miss the chance to be there on time.

I took the matter seriously…I arrived there fully geared with my CV, two books of mine, a few articles, and recordings of my radio shows.

I arrived at the address, BUT I have arrived two weeks late. WHY? Because I found out that they had made up their minds to shift the event 2 weeks earlier and ‘had forgotten’ to inform the worthless people like me who are panting after a job.

The person at the reception desk had a look at the emails I exchanged with the organizers and felt really deeply sorry for me, he advised me to complain in writing… I did not… I told him I am not going to waste any more of my time exchanging emails again with people who have no respect for other people’s time or effort. I promised myself I would never do it again and that I would never believe them. But I needed a job so bad, and I missed my old job so much that I continued to apply for every job one can think of.

One of the companies I never failed to apply for its jobs regularly for 2 full years is the BBC. With my previous experience I was sure I would be hired, especially with the introduction of the Arabic service, especially when I started to see other colleagues of mine who are not as skilled as me being hired for different jobs I have applied for. They imported them from Dubai where I was working, but never gave me the chance to be interviewed, even though I was already in the UK.

It was odd, here I am in the UK, having the full legal right to work, and considered unemployed, while the BBC is paying a considerable amount of money to bring others from abroad, some of them not as qualified as me and I knew them personally. I felt this is wearied especially with the media screaming every day about immigrant’s issues and control on numbers competing for the same jobs.

I did not stick to applying for one job, every single career advertised on the BBC website that I had experience of work during climbing the ladder I have applied for… translation… assistant producer… Interview producer… presenter… broadcaster … you name it.

The surprise came Thursday September 18, 2008 when I received an email from the BBC..reading

Candidate Ref: 998014
Dear Iqbal
Thank you for attending your recent pilot and informal chat for the above position. After careful consideration we regret to advise you that your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

We would like to thank you for the time you have invested in your application and hope you will consider applying for future opportunities with us.

If you would like more detailed feedback, please contact us within 4 weeks and we can arrange for constructive feedback to be provided.

Yours sincerely
The BBC Recruitment Team

It was a great shock for me, because I did NOT do any pilots, I never met them, I had no chat with anybody…so I wrote back to them

Dear Sir

I don’t know if this is a joke or what, Yes, I have applied for the job, I have been applying for almost 2 years for different posts, but you never met me nor did we have a pilot or any formal or informal chat.

Regarding careful consideration… it seems you know nothing about being careful or considerate for that matter. Since you made up your mind to reject offering me a chance of employment without even meeting me or talking to me.

I will be more than happy to share this email with other NUJ members.

Thank you
Iqbal Tamimi / journalist – UK

I still have NOT received an explanation of what has happened till this date.

So, what do I think? I think that establishments like the BBC want to prove that it has a record of people of minorities applying for jobs, BUT that theyse people could not be hired because they failed its standards. It is as simple as that. I wonder how many colleagues like myself received similar manipulated emails telling them that they were not good enough without giving them the chance to prove themselves. How many names and addresses are compiled to prove to NUJ that they are doing their best, offering all its members a FAIR chance but they were unfortunately not good enough?

Advertising such employment posts are just a fake show, it is their ammunition that they can use should they be accused of bias and being unfair. Then they have a list of rejected claims handy with names on them.

Who on earth would question the integrity of gigantic establishments like BBC?

Regarding the title of this article ‘Would you trust the BBC?’

I would say CERTAINLY NOT.


Source: Palestine Thinktank

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