The BBC has been on the receiving end this weekend of some fairly heavy criticism for not broadcasting an appeal from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) for donations to help people in the Gaza region.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, a group of 50 MPs launching an Early Day Motion, 11,000 viewers and protestors outside Broadcasting House have urged the corporation to reconsider its stance.
“What we’re not going to do is run a free-standing appeal on our airwaves. We do want to cover the humanitarian story, we want to cover it in our news programmes where we can put it in context and we can do it in a careful, balanced objective way,” said director-general Mark Thompson on BBC Breakfast.
Thompson also explained the decision via the BBC Editors Blog.
Sky News joined the broadcaster today in saying it will not show the DEC message – following up the announcement with an online debate with foreign news head Adrian Wells.
But elsewhere Al Jazeera will run public service announcements relating to the campaign from today and the 10 Downing St website is carrying a news release and link to the DEC site.
Meanwhile Tony Benn used an appearance on the Today programme to mention the appeal despite the BBC’s stance.
As such, there’s an argument that the BBC’s refusal to broadcast the charity’s appeal is generating even more coverage for it.
Blogger Martin Belam points out that an info box on DEC is carried on several pages of bbc.co.uk.
“Depending on where you stand, the BBC decision over the DEC appeal is either a fig-leaf to cover a previous lack of impartiality, evidence that the BBC will do absolutely anything to appease their Israeli masters, or a cunning ruse to to gain even more publicity for the appeal than merely broadcasting it ever would have done,” writes Belam.
As such, what is inarguable is the heated response that any coverage of the Gaza situation by the BBC will receive and the disagreement it will cause, says Belam.
A lose-lose situation for the Beeb?
UPDATE: The video has now been aired on ITN and you can view it here.