There’s now a very public fuss about the BBC’s unfathomable decision not to air an appeal requested by the Disaster’s Emergency Committee because of reasons of impartiality. So, I wrote the following:
RE: BBC decision not to air DEC Gaza appeal
I was surprised and frustrated to learn that the BBC have refused the request by the Disasters Emergency Committee to air an appeal for funds to help those in desperate need in Gaza.
The BBC response was that your concerns were about the delivery of aid to a volatile situation and about impartiality. The first issue appears to be one on which the DEC is better qualified to make a decision than the BBC. If the aid agencies involved believe it is possible to deliver aid then they should be supported – especially because it is often in volatile and dangerous situations that aid is most urgently required. The second issue is clearly within the BBC’s remit. However, the DEC insists it is an apolitical organisation working on humanitarian grounds. The simple fact is that thousands of people are newly impoverished and homeless, with urgent need for access to clean water, food and medical supplies. Regardless of the political situation I strongly believe that the BBC should take the small step of airing an appeal – along with all other broadcasters – to help relieve the suffering of these people. This action would fit very well with the BBC’s privileged position as a license-funded, public service organisation.
Thank you for your attention in reading this letter. I would be very grateful if you would reply with answers to the following questions:
1. Why does the BBC feel it is in a better position than DEC to decide on the dangers of delivery of aid?
2. How exactly would airing this appeal damage the BBC’s credentials for impartiality?
3. Will the BBC reconsider this decision?
Dr Kevin Gillan
BBC, ‘BBC defends Gaza appeal decision’ at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7846150.stm
 Guardian, ‘BBC refuses airtime to Gaza aid appeal’ at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jan/23/bbc-refuses-gaza-appeal