A letter to BBC – Air the fund-raising Gaza Appeal

24 Jan

Dear person-in-charge,

I am appalled to learn from Al Jazeera that BBC, along with other British broadcasters such as ITV and Sky has decided not to take part in the television fund- raising appeal for Gaza organised by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

According to the BBC and Al Jazeera news articles, the corporation questioned the capability of the humanitarian aid delivery process. Moreover, it does not want to ‘compromise public confidence’ and ‘impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story’.

Given that the DEC is comprised of reputable international aid agencies such as Oxfam, British Red Cross, and Save the Children, I am confident that they would do their best to deliver urgently needed humanitarian aid to Gazans. Given that the BBC has collaborated in DEC appeals in the past, I am sure that you are aware of the exemplary work done by the committee.

According to the DEC website, the member aid agencies are subject to a review in 2008 and thereafter, once every 3 years against a list of strict criteria. They are also fully registered humanitarian charities in the UK and signatories to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In the Myanmar Appeal, donations reached 10 million pounds and over 900,000 people. This is despite the fact that Burma is heavily controlled by a dictatorial military regime. In Darfur and Chad, the DEC raised 13 million pounds. Again, we are talking about another complex ongoing conflict zone.

The argument that the capability of the humanitarian agencies of providing much needed aid into Gaza cannot be susbtantiated given DEC’s past historical record and successes in these campaigns.

In addition, the BBC has rarely said no to a DEC request. In fact, according to the Daily Mail, this is the first time in history that DEC will go ahead with the appeal without the broadcasters. Since 1963, the broadcasters have launched televised appeals with DEC for 45 years. Without them, the DEC expressed concerns that the fundraising capability would be seriously affected.

The reason that the appeal will affect BBC’s journalistic integrity is also questionable given it has supported other appeals with equally complex ground situations in the past. For example, the ongoing conflicts in Darfur and Chad.

I read my news stories, write my news affair blogs, and watch daily news faithfully from BBC worldwide TV over here in Australia. I have grown to trust the impartiality of the news coverage offered by the network.

However, now that BBC has decided not to air the appeal, I will be seriously considering a personal boycott. This letter will also be circulated to my mailing list and published on my blog, in the hopes of gaining more publicity on BBC’s inaction.

As a responsible broadcaster with a captive world-wide audience, I appeal to BBC to do the right thing. The people of Gaza needs humanitarian aid and they need it now. Please do not hide behind the facade of  journalistic impartiality when we are talking about lives which we can save.

Charles Tan
A Concerned Blogger

==

References

Al Jazeera, 24 January 2009, ‘BBC refuses to show Gaza appeal’

BBC News, 22 January 2009, ‘BBC defends Gaza appeal decision’

Elicott, C 2009, ‘BBC refuses to broadcast Gaza aid appeal because of ‘impartiality fears’ ‘, 23 January 2009

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2 Responses to “A letter to BBC – Air the fund-raising Gaza Appeal”

  1. Stela Yordanova January 26, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Find out more about British Red Cross work in Gaza at
    http://www.redcross.org.uk/TLC.asp?id=90152
    or to donate to our appeal go to http://www.redcross.org.uk/gazacrisis

  2. Toiletbloke February 2, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Nice post Charles. I’ll be looking here more often.

    I think the key to the media obfuscation is your appeal for immediacy…

    “The people of Gaza needs humanitarian aid and they need it now”

    …after the kind of collective punishment recently meted out to them what the people of Gaza (NOTE: not the entirety of its population effectively demonised as “HAMAS”, collectively) need is help…NOW.

    No need for me to carry on, I imagine that we’re both sufficiently frustrated by this.
    Sad that the mind’s eye, & short attention span of the world, so quickly loses focus only days/weeks after the decimation of a tiny pocket of cornered people.
    It doesn’t take much wondering to conceive what the reaction would be here (in our cosy corner of the planet) if one of our own cities/provinces was pounded into dust (after being starved & economically crippled) by the spectre of overindulged, state of the art US tools of death & destruction.

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