Exclusive: British media’s pro-Israel bias has worsened, major new analysis suggests

Centre for Media Monitoring crunched half a million pieces of coverage from 41 news outlets and found widening gulf between representation of Israeli and Palestinian perspectives

Photo by TheNews2/Cover Images/Reuters
A new study from the Centre for Media Monitoring found the British media’s coverage of the war on Palestine referenced Israel’s rights seven times as often as Palestine’s. Photograph by TheNews2/Cover Images/Reuters

A comprehensive new analysis of more than half a million pieces of British news coverage, shared exclusively with Hyphen, suggests reporting on Israel’s war on Gaza has become increasingly one-sided.

The Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), an arm of the Muslim Council of Britain, analysed more than 450,000 broadcast clips from news channels and about 70,000 news articles published between November 2023 and June 2024, finding that Israel’s rights were referenced seven times as often as those of Palestinians.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the research “provides evidence of familiar but nonetheless shocking anti-Palestinian media bias”.

CfMM examined broadcast clips from 13 news channels, including the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky News, Al Jazeera English, and right-wing outlets GB News and TalkTV.

In the seven months to June 2024, news channels used the words “Israel’s right” — often followed by “to defend itself” — 2,288 times. In comparison, Palestinian rights were mentioned 324 times.

The CfMM also analysed coverage from 28 news websites, including the Daily Mail, The Sun, the Independent, the Guardian, The Times and the BBC. It found Palestinian rights were mentioned 299 times compared with 2,130 mentions of Israel’s rights.

An earlier report by CfMM, published in March, analysed media coverage of the conflict during its first month and found Israel’s rights were referenced five times as often as Palestinians’ rights across broadcast channels, and six times as often on news websites — meaning the imbalance has grown.

Faisal Hanif, a researcher at CfMM who carried out the analysis, said the updated findings showed an “inherent bias when it comes to the reporting on Palestinians”.

“Since October, we’ve seen an increase in the number of Palestinian deaths, the bombing of camps, the flour massacre, and horrific images of babies with missing limbs,” he told Hyphen. “Despite that, media coverage has sided with Israel’s narrative. 

“There’s a saying that the job of the media is to comfort the afflicted. That seems to be totally reversed here. Instead, we see coverage that constantly dehumanises Palestinians.”

In the seven months to June, broadcasters platformed Israeli perspectives — identified by looking for dozens of terms such as “Israel said” and “IDF said” — more than four times as often as those of Palestinians (9,982 times vs 2,168). This is a marked increase from analysis of the month up to November, when Israeli perspectives were shown almost three times as much as Palestinians’ (4,311 times vs 1,598).

The CfMM also compared Israeli and Palestinian perspectives in online news articles. During the first month of the conflict, Israeli perspectives were presented almost twice as often as Palestinian perspectives (2,983 times vs 1,737), while in the seven months to November, this increased to almost three times as much (6,339 times vs 2,416).

Jamal said: “The media is obligated by their own professional standards to be fair and balanced in their reporting but in relation to Israel’s genocide in Gaza the results are quite the opposite. This has significant effects. It limits general understanding of fundamental issues such as the fact that Palestinians are living under occupation and a system of apartheid — both crimes under international law. 

“It [also] enables our political leaders to escape real scrutiny and responsibility for their actions, such as failing to call for a full, immediate ceasefire and failing to stop arms exports to Israel.

“The cost of this situation can be measured in Palestinian lives — more than 37,000 men, women and children killed so far in Gaza since October, with British complicity shamefully part of the cause, but not a significant part of the story the media chooses to tell.”

A spokesperson for UK broadcast media regulator Ofcom said it had received 29,645 complaints about coverage of the conflict since 7 October but would not provide further detail on the substance of these or how many had been upheld.

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