The "feeble" BBC

Yesterday the rumblings started regarding the BBC’s refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committee’s appeal for the humanitarian relief effort in Gaza, which meant the other broadcasters followed suit. Douglas wrote to the BBC yesterday, and also started lobbying through DCMS too.

The BBC gave two excuses – sorry, ‘reasons’ – firstly that they weren’t convinced the aid would get through (and obviously they are in a far, far better position to judge this than the likes of Oxfam, Save the Children, and the Red Cross, who are just some of the UK aid agencies involved in the DEC appeal). Second, was that it might ‘compromise the BBC’s impartiality’. As Douglas said on the Today programme this morning ‘though, people are perfectly capable of distinguishing between a humanitarian relief effort and taking sides in a conflict. (And doesn’t the BBC’s refusal to air the appeal indicate a certain partiality in the opposite direction?) And Ben Bradshaw said on Any Questions that it was an ‘inexplicable decision’ and the BBC was ‘feeble’.

Definitely worth listening to the Today programme clip by the way, if only to hear quite how shockingly bad the BBC spokesperson was.

As Tony Benn said on BBC radio earlier, the decision not to air the appeal means, in brutal terms, that – because less money will be raised – people will die. Thankfully C4 and ITV have now decided to air the ads, after DFID and DCMS got involved. They’d originally been happy to do so, but the convention is that they only do it if all broadcasters agree. Now they’ve broken ranks.

If anyone out there really does take the view that the Palestinians brought this on themselves, ‘were asking for it’ (as seems to be the line taken by the BBC spokesperson in drawing a distinction between natural disasters and this conflict), or if they really think that giving aid to the people of Gaza means giving money to Hamas, then it’s simple – don’t donate. But I will be. In case the picture link doesn’t work here’s the DEC website.
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