The Arabic arm of the publicly funded BBC has been shamed by a guest speaker who interrupted a live broadcast about the Russia-Ukraine crisis to demand for dues, which he claimed had not been paid by the TV network in two years.
Mehdi Eliefifi , a political commentator, was invited to speak about US President Joe Biden’s comments on the situation unfolding between Russia and Ukraine on 20 January, but used the opportunity to instead highlight an issue “of much higher importance”.
In his on-air protest, Mr. Eliefifi said: “The BBC has failed to pay dues for two years. Where are those responsible for this payment of dues?”
The political analyst held up a sign to his camera which asked, “Where is my money?” and named two of BBC Arabic’s editors, Edward Jalad and Tamer Abdelwahab.
The BBC Arabic broadcaster interrupted him asking: “Do you think this is really of any importance to the viewers?”
But the video of Mr. Eliefifi’s protest went viral in the Middle East and North Africa, and several other journalists claimed similar experiences with BBC Arabic, who are part of the UK license fee-funded World Service.
Mr. Eliefifi told open Democracy he was owed about US$10,000 (£7,560) for appearances dating back to 2019, while Ahmed Fathi, a US-based correspondent, estimated that BBC Arabic owed him several thousands of dollars stretching back two or three years.
BBC Arabic issued a statement on Twitter, saying: “To clarify the issue of the symbolic payments owed to some of the BBC’s guests, we conducted further investigations and we are aware of a technical defect in the payment mechanism within the institution, which led to the delay in the dues of some guests.
“Therefore, we apologize for the delay to all those affected by this matter and assure that we are working hard to solve this case as soon as possible.” (Source: Independent UK)