Duncan's blog

January 26, 2009

Unfit for the BBC?

Filed under: Politics — duncan @ 9:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

This is the Disasters Emergency Committee video appeal the BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson, is unwilling to air because it would apparently compromise the BBC’s impartiality.

An article in today’s Guardian suggests part of Mark Thompson’s reasoning might be connected to the Balen report into its Middle East coverage, which is as yet unpublished, despite attempts to get it released under Freedom Of Information.

Update: today’s Guardian has further details that shed more light on this:

Under guidelines agreed between the DEC and broadcasters, three criteria warrant a nationwide appeal:

  • substantial, urgent need in a humanitarian crisis;
  • evidence that aid agencies can guarantee effective assistance on the ground;
  • and sufficient “public awareness, and sympathy for” the humanitarian crisis.

All of which are currently met by the crisis in Gaza. But the BBC say: “Preserving our impartiality is the BBC’s main criterion when deciding whether to broadcast an appeal”. The DEC have been broadcasting similar appeals since the 1960s, and only this one and their previous appeal for the Israel-Lebanon conflict in 2006 have been rejected by the BBC for “impartiality” reasons. (Some have been rejected for failing to meet all of the three criteria above).

Previous DEC appeals the BBC broadcast include:

And many others that might not be considered “impartial“.

It seems Mark Thompson is now making up what the guidelines are when deciding to show the DEC’s appeals. Incidentally, Thompson has held meetings with Ariel Sharon, and has a Jewish wife, but I’m sure neither of those would be affecting his decision-making capabilities on this matter.

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