Last night I received news of a friend’s resignation from the BBC Appeals Advisory Committee after he had seen the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza crisis appeal, which was rejected by the BBC as compromising its political neutrality, broadcast on Channel 4. (Resignation letter here.)
He argues persuasively that the DEC is itself a non-political body that provides an objective and transparent mechanism for international charities to debate and collectively decide on national media appeals, and that this external governance structure provides the BBC with more than enough protection of its political independence.
He notes that the BBC has in the past broadcast humanitarian appeals that have been potentially politically controversial. Live Aid appeals for aid to Ethiopia were broadcast in the 1980s despite concerns about the Mengistu regime, as was the 1982 DEC appeal by Sue Lawley for Palestinian and Lebanese victims of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the stated purpose of which was to drive out the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
I find it worrying that the BBC is unable to make the distinction between political bias and statements of fact, as pointed out by the Times editorial on Monday the 26th of January: “The death and suffering in Gaza is entirely the fault of Israel. That is a biased statement. The death and suffering in Gaza is entirely the fault of Hamas. That is a biased statement. There has been death and there is suffering in Gaza. That is a simple statement of fact.”
So, as you can imagine, l’ll be sending a letter of complaint to the BBC.