The BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella group for 13 aid charities, launched its appeal yesterday saying the devastation in Gaza was "so huge British aid agencies were compelled to act". But the BBC made a rare breach of an agreement dating to 1963, saying it would not give free airtime to the appeal. Other broadcasters followed suit. Previously, broadcasters had agreed on the video and script to be used with the DEC, to be shown after primetime news bulletins.
The BBC, which has been criticised in the past over alleged bias in its coverage of the Middle East, said it did not want to risk public confidence in its impartiality. A BBC spokesperson said: "The decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in the context of [a] news story."
The DEC's chief executive, Brendan Gormley, said: "We are totally apolitical ... this appeal is a response to humanitarian principles. The BBC seems to be confusing impartiality with equal airtime." DEC appeals have recently raised £10m for the Congo and £18m for Burma....
"BBC scuppers TV fundraising appeal for Gaza victims
A nationwide appeal for money to help the Gaza relief effort has been denied free television airtime because the BBC fears that it would damage confidence in the corporation’s impartiality....
In the case of the Gaza appeal, talks stalled on Wednesday when the broadcasters could not reach an agreement. The broadcast would have have highlighted the plight of thousands of victims, including many children, who are homeless and without food, power and water....
BBC denied it was to blame for preventing the appeal broadcasts going ahead. Sources at the corporation insisted that it was not the only broadcaster that did not want to screen it, suggesting that BSkyB — in which News Corporation, parent company of The Times, has a 39.1 per cent stake — was also against it and that ITV was “on the fence.”
Or is that WALL -- as in ISRAEL'S APARTHEID WALL?