Friday, 23 January 2009

Who pays the price for censorship?

Posted on Bevan blog on 23 January


The Times reports this morning that the BBC have blocked a televised appeal for aid to Gaza "to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story".

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB took the same stance.

The Times reports that this breaks a 45 year-old agreement with overseas aid charities to broadcast their fundraising appeals and arises from nervousness at the BBC that the appeal could result in the corporation having to compromise its coverage of the Gaza story.

In a statement the corporation admitted it did not want to risk compromising confidence in BBC impartiality. "The BBC has decided not to broadcast the DEC’s public appeal to raise funds for Gaza. The BBC decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story. However the BBC will, of course, continue to report the humanitarian story in Gaza," it said.

Speaking to The Times, Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the DEC, questioned the BBC’s suggestion that it may not be possible to deliver much aid because the situation remained volatile. British charities were already on the ground and delivering aid. "Agencies are already providing food, drugs and blankets as well as delivering clean water. But we will soon reach the limit of what we can do, without more money," he said.

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