Protests via social media by Lobby for Cyprus and Cypriot refugees led to apologies from BBC presenter Simon Reeve and broadcaster SBS Australia, and a correction by the BBC.
An incorrect map in the title sequence of the two-part series ’Turkey with Simon Reeve’ gave the false impression that the illegal Turkish occupied area of Cyprus is part of Turkey. Following complaints, the offending map was swiftly corrected by the BBC for part two of the documentary series.
Lobby for Cyprus spokesman Theo Theodorou commented:
“It causes Greek Cypriot refugees deep distress when mainstream media outlets publish misleading information about Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus. Through the use of Twitter, Lobby for Cyprus was able to quickly highlight the BBC’s error and the deep offence it caused to the Cypriot community. Whilst we are grateful to Simon Reeve, the BBC and SBS Australia for their quick response in amending this oversight, it is important to emphasise that this is not an isolated incident. Editorial checks need to be tightened to ensure that such errors are avoided in future.”
The first part of ’Turkey with Simon Reeve’ was broadcast on Sunday 26 March 2017 on BBC2. Lobby for Cyprus contacted Mr Reeve and the BBC via Twitter to draw their attention to the error. Refugees and their supporters from different parts of the world joined the effort. To date the original Lobby for Cyprus tweet has been viewed by more than 12,000 Twitter users.
Within hours, Mr Reeve quickly responded, apologising for the error and undertook to work with the BBC to have the map corrected. The map was amended in part two of the series in time for broadcast in the UK on Sunday 2 April 2017.
However part one remains unchanged and available on BBC iPlayer. Lobby for Cyprus has asked Simon Reeve to find out when the map in part one will also be changed but has yet to receive a response.
Theo Theodorou went on to say:
“Lobby for Cyprus remains concerned about the lack of accurate and balanced information on Cyprus in the public domain and we endeavour to keep on setting the record straight. Turkey expends vast resources to disseminate false information about its illegal occupation, as it does of other aspects of history. Countering such misinformation is a major challenge for Cypriot refugees and their supporters. In recent years Lobby for Cyprus has increased its use of social media to present the facts on Turkey’s war crimes and human rights violations. We call on all those with an interest in these issues not to rely on information that does not question Ankara’s narrative, as is too often the case in the mainstream media.”
On Monday 3 April, part one of ‘Simon Reeve’s Turkey’ aired on SBS Australia and was subsequently made available via the SBS On Demand website. Following representations from refugees and supporters in Australia, on Tuesday 4 April, SBS apologised, removed the episode from SBS On Demand, and undertook to have the map corrected before broadcasting the programme again.
Note to editors
In 1974, a third of the population was forcibly displaced when Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey continues to occupy a third of Cyprus’ territory in violation of international law. Many of the refugees displaced by the Turkish invasion, having lost all their possessions and in fear for their lives, relocated to the UK and Australia.
Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political NGO that campaigns for a unitary Cypriot state.