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Minister presses BBC on Gaza appeal
Ben Bradshaw, himself a former BBC journalist, said that broadcasters' decision not to screen the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) was "inexplicable" and dismissed the Corporation's explanation for its position as "completely feeble".BBC director general Mark Thompson on Friday turned down a request from International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander to reconsider his decision.
Mr Thompson said that he was concerned that broadcasting the appeal might compromise the BBC's impartiality. The BBC and other broadcasters have also expressed anxiety about whether any aid raised could be delivered effectively on the ground in Gaza, where thousands of people are in need of food, shelter and medicine following a three-week Israeli military offensive.
The DEC - which brings together several major aid charities - has voiced its disappointment at the broadcasters' decision. Previous appeals have been transmitted on multiple TV and radio channels, raising millions of pounds for people affected by war and natural disasters in countries from Burma to the Congo.
Former Government minister Tony Benn will join a protest against the decision outside the BBC's Broadcasting House later today. He used an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to broadcast an appeal himself, urging listeners to send gifts to PO Box 999 London EC3A 3AA or donate via freepay account 1210 at the Post Office.
In a letter last night to Mr Alexander, following his appeal to broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Sky to reconsider their decision, Mr Thompson said that the BBC would "generally" agree to the DEC's requests to broadcast appeals for funds.
But he said that the situation in Gaza was "an ongoing and highly controversial news story within which the human suffering and distress which have resulted from the conflict remain intrinsic and contentious elements".
Mr Thompson said: "After consultation with senior news editors, we concluded that to broadcast a free-standing appeal, no matter how carefully couched, ran the risk of calling into question the public's confidence in the BBC's impartiality in its coverage of the story as a whole..."
However health minister Mr Bradshaw told Today: "I think this was an inexplicable decision. This is a humanitarian catastrophe and I am afraid the reasons given by the BBC are completely feeble... (This) nervousness about being biased - I am afraid the BBC has to stand up to the Israeli authorities occasionally."
This was on Yahoo News about 25 minutes ago . The time now is 5 pm Malaysian time, 24 January 2009.What do we expect of the world's most "respected" broadcaster? Like most of the Western and non-western print and electronic media they are in "hock and awe" to the terrorist state of Israel. The blood of the Gazans has been spattered all over their homeland, and they now need to be denied "the oxygen of publicity" - what Margaret Thatcher applied to the IRA
in the land of 'The Mother of all Parliaments'.
Like I posted earlier, the Palestinians haven't got a hope in hell - or on this, their bleeding
Besides giving up on Starbucks and all the other collaborators of this sickening violence, will at least each of the 1/2 a billion Muslims donate 1MYR a week to this Fund? It's not too much to ask is it? It's not like 'sacrificing .... your impartiality'.