Sunday, January 25, 2009

BBC refuses to show Gaza aid appeal

The BBC is finding itself on the receiving end of more and more criticism over a decision not to show an emergency aid appeal for the people of Gaza.

A group of nearly two dozen British charities, including notable groups like Oxfam and the British Red Cross, came together under the banner of the Disasters Emergency Committee to raise money to provide the people of Gaza for basic supplies like food, medicine and blankets in the wake of the three-week war with Israel. The centerpiece of the appeal is a film about Gaza that will be shown nationwide in Britain. Channel Four, Five and ITV have all agreed to broadcast the DEC's film, the BBC however refused. Their explanation was that the film was similar to images from Gaza they have shown on their newscasts and they feared that if they broadcast the film – which shows the impact of the conflict on the lives of the Gazans - it could be interpreted as the BBC taking sides in the Israel-Gaza conflict. The BBC cited the need to remain impartial in coverage of the conflict as part of their reason not to broadcast the appeal.

But in trying to be non-political, the BBC is now being accused of being just that. And being slammed by critics in the process.

So far more than 10,000 people have sent in complaints to the BBC over their decision and members of a British anti-war group ‘occupied’ the Beeb’s Glasgow office in protest. Religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, weighed in saying that ‘humanity’ should trump impartiality and that the BBC should air the film, meanwhile a group of 50 ministers of parliament are planning to back a motion urging the BBC to reconsider their decision.
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