Wednesday, August 20 2014

ENGAGE Writes to BBC Director-General Mark Thompson Over Refusal To Air DEC Gaza Appeal


  

ENGAGE has written an open letter to the Director-General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, urging him to reconsider the disgraceful decision not to broadcast the DEC Gaza Appeal.

 

You can also contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   or email http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ or call 03700 100 222 to register a complaint. 

[Letter to Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC]


Dear Mr Thompson,

We at ENGAGE have read your explanation yesterday evening on the BBC website about why the BBC is refusing to allow the Disasters Emergency Committee to broadcast an appeal for funds in respect of the terrible humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

You say there are two main reasons why you have refused to allow the broadcast of the appeal and explain the first reason as follows:

'A few days ago, the DEC approached us about an appeal for Gaza and, after very careful reflection and consultation inside and outside the BBC, we decided that in this case we should not broadcast the appeal. One reason was a concern about whether aid raised by the appeal could actually be delivered on the ground. You will understand that one of the factors we have to look at is the practicality of the aid, which the public are being asked to fund, getting through. In the case of the Burma cyclone, for instance, it was only when we judged that there was a good chance of the aid getting to the people who needed it most that we agreed to broadcast the appeal. Clearly, there have been considerable logistical difficulties in delivering aid into Gaza. However some progress has already been made and the situation could well improve in the coming days. If it does, this reason for declining to broadcast the appeal will no longer be relevant.'

Surely the thirteen major charities that together make up the DEC are in a far better position than the BBC to know whether they can get aid through to the people of Gaza or not. It is, after all, their area of expertise. Have the DEC charities informed you that there is a high likelihood that money donated now will not be effective? If they have not, then why is the BBC attempting to second guess the DEC?

You hold out the possibility that you may review your decision in future if you believe the 'logistical difficulties' in getting aid into Gaza are overcome. As the DEC have decided to launch an appeal now they must evidently be convinced that there are no insurmountable difficulties in getting aid through to the people who need it. Besides, public interest in the DEC charity appeal will naturally decline as Gaza fades from the headlines - it is important for charities to be able to raise funds when public awareness is high.

You explain your second and more 'fundamental reason' for not allowing the DEC to broadcast their Gaza Appeal as follows:

'After looking at all of the circumstances, and in particular after seeking advice from senior leaders in BBC Journalism, we concluded that we could not broadcast a free-standing appeal, no matter how carefully constructed, without running the risk of reducing public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in its wider coverage of the story.'

As the editorial in today's edition of The Observer notes, your concern that broadcasting the DEC Gaza Appeal might undermine the public's confidence in the BBC's impartiality:

'...might feasibly be true if it could be shown, or even credibly argued, that the broadcast was anything other than a genuine humanitarian appeal; if there was evidence that the DEC was intent on mobilising people's charitable instincts for some covert political end. But there is no such evidence.'

And as The Independent on Sunday notes in an editorial today:

'Does the BBC have so little confidence in its reporting that it believes it can be undermined by its providing airtime for a charitable appeal for humanitarian aid?'

You conclude your explanation by saying:

'However, BBC News and the BBC as a whole takes its responsibility to report the human consequences of situations like Gaza very seriously and I believe our record in doing it with compassion as well as objectivity is unrivalled.'

A few years ago, Professor Greg Philo and Dr Mike Berry of the Glasgow University Media Group conducted a study of television news coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their research found that on British television, particularly on BBC1, there was a preponderance of official 'Israeli perspectives'. Israelis were interviewed or reported more than twice as much as Palestinians. Because very little or no historical background was usually provided - such as many of the Palestinians having been dispossessed as a result of the creation of Israel and its subsequent wars - in much of the news coverage there was a tendency to present the Palestinians as initiating trouble and the Israelis are then presented as "responding" or "retaliating".

We very much hope that you will urgently reconsider your decision not to allow the DEC Gaza Appeal.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
Advisor on Research and Policy,
ENGAGE

 









Last Updated on Monday, 23 February 2009 18:54

Comments

 
0 #4 Reply from my MP Fiona MacTaggartConstituent 2009-01-26 23:33
From:
To:
Sent: 26/01/2009 07:56:39 Pacific Standard Time
Subj: Gaza


Dear Constituent
Thank you for contacting me about the situation in Gaza. I am sure that you are as relieved as I about the ceasefire and that there is so much work going on internationally to try to make it stick and to re-start the political process. You will know that the first overseas phone call President Obama made was to President Abbas – I think that shows his deep commitment towards working for a just solution in the Middle East and the UK government will support him and continue our own work towards peace and justice.

The House of Commons has debated Gaza on several occasions this year – I think the most useful debate was on 15 January, I was able to intervene in the debate and you can see the whole debate at http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090115/debtext/90115-0012.htm#090115102000001. Douglas Alexander also recently wrote to update MPs on what the Department for International Development is doing and I attach a copy of his letter.

ITV and Channel 4 will be broadcasting an appeal for humanitarian aid for Gaza, to add to the government action. I support this and believe the BBC have acted wrongly and have failed to provide moral leadership in refusing to broadcast this appeal. In a conflict where a third of the casualties have been children all of us have a duty to show bias towards children having a future and this appeal offers the children of Palestine the chance of a future. On Sunday I attended a benefit event organised by Medical Aid for Palestine which has raised over £875,000 towards its target of £1 million, all of which will go directly to providing for the people of Gaza. I hope the BBC will soon agree to do so as well.

Thank you again for contacting me about this – I will be in touch again when I receive any further responses to the representations I have made to the Prime Minister and to the Foreign Secretary.

With best wishes, Fiona Mactaggart
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0 #3 BBC Consulted Board of Deputies of British Jews on DecisionLord Zion 2009-01-26 23:26
Read this article on the Guardian's website today:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jan/26/british-gaza-appeal-row-british-jewish-body

It says that a Board fo Deputies spokesman said:

'...the BBC had asked the Board of Deputies for its opinion but the organisation had no input other than saying it would need to see the appeal first.'

Let's take a guess at the number of Palestinian or Muslim organisations that the BBC consulted...what do you think?

Zionist toadies.
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0 #2 usman 2009-01-26 01:30
The BBC's "reasons" have both been utterly blown appart during these last 24 hours.

Demand them to reveal the true reason, as "distribution" and "impartiality" are patently NOT genuine explanarions.
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0 #1 BBC\'D DG IS FRIENDS WITH SHARONdugal 2009-01-25 23:08
www.independent.co.uk/news/people/pandora/bbc-chief-holds-peace-talks-in-jerusalem-with-ariel-sharon-517400.html

Mark Thompson, has recently returned from Jerusalem, where he held a face-to-face meeting with the hardine Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Although the diplomatic visit was not publicised on these shores, it has been seized upon in Israel as evidence that Thompson, who took office in 2004, intends to build bridges with the country's political class.

Sources at the Beeb also suspect that it heralds a "softening" to the corporation's unofficial editorial line on the Middle East.

"This was the first visit of its kind by any serving director general, so it's clearly a significant development," I'm told.

"Not many people know this, but Mark is actually a deeply religious man. He's a Catholic, but his wife is Jewish, and he has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors."
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