NDS, the subject of a major BBC investigation for its Panorama flagship current affairs show earlier this week, has hit back. A letter from Dr Abe Peled, executive chairman of NDS, accuses the BBC of deliberately “manipulating” e-mails to indicate that they had been sent by NDS or its staff, when in fact they were from third parties and being forwarded internally within NDS. The original e-mails had the key “>” symbol in each line to show that they had not originated from within NDS. The BBC omitted the “>” symbol in its on-screen graphics.
NDS demands a “swift response and resolution” of this matter, and may elevate its complaint to the BBC Trust.
Peled’s letter to BBC producer Alistair Jackson says the show “seriously misconstrued legitimate activities we undertake in the course of running an encryption business. You have used footage to falsely demonstrate your allegation that we sent certain emails externally to facilitate piracy when in fact the email was sent internally as part of our anti-piracy work. You have also taken emails wholly out of context. This has helped paint a picture for your viewers that is incorrect, misleading and deeply damaging to my company and our sister company News Corporation. We demand that you retract these allegations immediately.”
The letter continues: “The fact that you relied on manipulated email chains, without checking their authenticity with us prior to broadcast, demonstrates a flagrant disregard to the BBC’s broadcasting code, misleading viewers and inciting widespread misreporting.”
“Despite your on air claims, this manipulated email is not evidence of NDS promoting or facilitating piracy. To the contrary, in its original form, this exchange is clear evidence of NDS’s ongoing anti-piracy activities. Furthermore, you displayed total flagrant disregard for the true context surrounding emails cited.”
Peled argues that the BBC has ignored repeated requests to identify factual allegations. He says that had they been shown the allegations ahead of transmission then NDS would have been able to show that this cache of stolen e-mails had been deliberately manipulated as part of “an ongoing plan by third parties to damage the reputation of NDS and News Corp.”
Advanced-Television.com has also had sight of complaints made by another contributor to the programme, Oliver Kömmerling, and shown on air to be negative about NDS, but complaining that the BBC film crew having spent some three hours filming his statements only used two tiny clips and did not fairly represent his views.
However, the BBC allegations continue to fester for NDS. An overnight report in the Australian Financial Review, focuses on DirecTV in the USA, which around 1999-2000 was badly hacked, and again quotes e-mails which seem to indicate – says the newspaper – that NDS had “found a fix to the problem but decided not to implement it… [given] the politics of the DirecTV situation”.
Australia’s communications minister Stephen Conroy has suggested that evidence of criminal behaviour by News Corporation should be referred by the publication to police. “The story is full of factual inaccuracies, flawed references, fanciful conclusions and baseless accusations which have been disproved in overseas courts,” News Limited said in Australia yesterday.