The BBC was under fire today (Tuesday) for its refusal to air an appeal for humanitarian relief aid in Gaza. Some 15,500 complaints about the policy were registered by BBC switchboard operators. On Monday, protesters mounted a demonstration outside Broadcasting House in London, and some participated in a noisy protest in the lobby until police removed them. Some of the demonstrators burned their TV licenses in front of the police (and TV news cameras). Some 112 Members of Parliament introduced a motion criticizing the BBC for turning down the spot by the Disasters Emergency Committee's Gaza Crisis Appeal. The BBC said it was doing so on grounds that it would run "the risk of reducing public confidence in the BBC's impartiality." The spot, however, aired on commercial outlets ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. But News Corp-controlled Sky Broadcasting also refused to air it, saying that it was "incompatible with our role in providing balanced and objective reporting." Labor MP Richard Burden told BBC News, "Viewers and listeners can see the difference between a humanitarian appeal and politics -- even if the BBC and Sky management cannot." The Disasters Emergency Committee is asking for funds for food, medicine and blankets for noncombatants in Gaza who were left homeless by the recent Israeli siege. On Monday, the Archbishop of York issued a statement saying that in this instance the BBC ought to place humanity over impartiality and show the spot. Today's London Times reported that the BBC Trust, the broadcaster's governing body will review the decision not to air the appeal.

27/01/2009