Saturday, 24 January 2009

Impartiality or BBC Ineptitude

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Well it will be Sky News, ITV or Channel 4 for me from now on as well as watching snippets of Al Jazeera on You Tube because the BBC is refusing to show a TV appeal for the victims of the war in Gaza. I will also stop using BBC links from this blog after this post which will make things little harder but a price I'm willing to pay.

I've also stopped following @bbcbreaking and @bbcscotland on Twitter. If Twitter can spread the word on #MPexpences let's see if we can send the BBC a direct message by unfollowing them en masse.

In the BBC story of why they have refused Michael Johnson says it it so that they do not want to appear to be partial in their coverage of the conflict. For starters the conflict is currently in ceasefire and the majority of the victims, and all of the civilian victims in the war are from the Palestinian side by a ratio of 100:1. When you add on the buildings, health and education facilities that have been affected it greater heightens the case for a human response to help.

Mr Johnson's statement says:

"Inevitably an appeal would use pictures which are the same or similar to those we would be using in our news programmes but would do so with the objective of encouraging public donations.

"The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story."

So the BBC is telling orphaned and injured children, bereaved parents, doctors and nurses fighting to help the injured in damaged facilities that appearing to be impartial is more important than there lives. That because they covered the war impartially and showed the major extent of bombardments in Gaza and minimal impact in Israel, that impartiality and heavy weighting of coverage to Palestine is no longer impartial.

The BBC do not seem to be playing from a level playing field as they have shown appeals for war victims in the past. The fact that there is, or has been a sizable Jewish presence in running of the BBC does throw the current decision, which is contrary to the approach of ITV, Channel 4 and Five, into some sort of favouritism towards Israel (or possibly indirectly to the USA).

In my personal opinion the BBC should get off this particular high horse and join the human race for a change.

For the record various Blue Peter appeals on the BBC have been for victims of wars that are part of ongoing stories, others have been to war torn or embattled areas. The distribution of the things bought with these appeals must have been very carefully balanced to avoid favouritism. However, if the children's programming department can be trusted to remain impartial, you expect whoever would have t liaise with the appeal makers can be also.

  • 1976 Lifeline Lebanon Appeal for victims of the civil war.
  • 1979 Bring and Buy Sale for Cambodia which was still a contested country at the time.
  • 2004 The Welcome Home Appeal to reunite families ripped apart by the Angolan civil war


  1. I am furious with the BBC over this and as soon as I return to London from Strasbourg (Monday) will be making my views known at the highest level within the Corporation.

  2. You do realise that Sky aren't showing it either.
    The fact the ITV, C4 and Five took their time makes me think that there is something in the appeal video itself, which the broadcasters are worried about. But as we haven't seen it yet I think it's too early to critise anyone.

  3. I'm with Mitch Benn on this: whichever decision the BBC had taken they would have been crucified for it.

    I think they fell the wrong side of the line too, but I don't think the decision was easy for them, or lightly taken, and I don't think there would have been any less hysteria had they decided to show it.

    I'm kind of sad that BBC-bashing seems to be de rigeur for all sides at the moment, though.

  4. Ryan Sky as they keep reminding me every time they cover the BBC story are still considering whether to show the appeal. I have of course emailed them to encourage them to show it.

    Jennie unlike the other TV channels we as UK tax and licence fee payers are the ones that pay for the BBC. It is our channel.

    I hear that Nick put it rather well on Andrew Marr this morning something about trusting the public not to mix up an appeal for aid with impartiality in reporting. If that was what he said I agree that the BBC are taking the population for idiots that having shown us the carnage we therefore cannot separate our concern for the people affected from one channels impartial approach to coverage of the story.