Saturday, January 24, 2009

The BBC and the DEC

The BBC has refused permission for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), a group of leading relief agencies, to run their appeal for aid to Gaza.

The reasons they give are pretty spurious. Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, explains all here.

First the BBC are worried that they cannot be sure that the aid will get through. Well one would expect the DEC to have considered that pretty thoroughly, and the BBC are hardly experts in aid delivery and not really able to assess this. By the time of writing they've pretty much with drawn this.

The second reason is more serious - that it would be "compromising to public confidence in its impartiality". No mention of the compromise in public confidence shown by not showing the film. Indeed, the number of people voicing suspicion that the BBC is acting this way because it fears pressure from Israel surely raises worries about its impartiality.

Basically, if they can show appeals for aid after conflict in the Sudan and the Congo, both with equally complicated political situations, why can't they do it for Gaza? The bottom line is this: this is about humanitarian aid, not about the rights and wrongs of the war. It's perfectly possible to think Israel was justified in its attack, and still to want to help those whose lives have been ruined by the fighting.

Still, it has been the occasion of that most British of experiences: the BBC reporting (impartially) on the BBC. (IMHO, the BBC news department disapproves of the decision, and is working hard to keep it at the top of the news agenda so that everyone knows to give.)


Anonymous said...

Anything that chips away at the foundations of the edifice is good in my book.

mberenis said...
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