Not Anti Beeb

Update: And here is the ad they banned, shown on all the other terrestrial channels only the BBC and Murdoch’s Sky helped cover up the damage of the attack on Gaza.

Donate to the DEC appeal, details below or here.

Is the BBC a news channel? It is not, it is public broadcaster who as well as news makes and broadcasts all manner of radio and television shows available in various media. They have shows about surreal puppets who live in the woods, they have shows about time travellers and their enmity towards malicious dustbins, they have shows about quaint EastEnd folk and their inability to act very well or ever have even a halfway happy life. They have music shows, DIY shows, gardening shows, cooking shows, look you get the idea. So the BBC as a whole is not a news organisation that is only one of its functions, therefore to air the DEC appeal does not immediately mean its news operations are synonymous with the appeal, in fact it doesn’t mean the BBC is, they are simply doing their job as public broadcaster to give leading charities a platform to raise money for a region in dire need. That the DEC saw fit to focus on this the BBC should respect their expertise and assessment of needs, people at the BBC are not more expert than personnel from the charities making up the DEC. Claims this impacts impartiality is like claiming because Have I Got News for You ridicules public figures the current affairs department can no longer do its job as the BBC clearly takes a stance all politician’s are feckless grifters.

There is only one answer as to why the DEC appeal is banned from the BBC, and make no mistake banned is an appropriate word. The answer is they are overly open and sensitive to the partisan concerns of pro-Israeli parties, be they lobbyists, Zionist organisations or the Israeli government itself. The result is the BBC is now, by banning the ad, reducing help to people Israel has only recently stopped killing. By default that makes this decision not impartial but actually a helpful part of the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza. Only looking at it from a partisan pro-Israel position does the decision even approach appearing ‘impartial’. One can only assume the military forces in the Congo neglected to spend money on effective lobbying of the BBC as that appeal was broadcast without the BBC panicking what Hutu militia’s thought about ‘bias’. It is also extremely offensive to the peace groups and human rights organisations in Israel who themselves opposed the attacks and are trying to help the Palestinians in Gaza. The BBC is lining up with the pro-war faction in one nation on Earth against the needs of a starved and bombed populace. That is not impartial. Humanitarianism trumps political and religious factions, perhaps the most recent and well known precedence for ignoring such basic ethical approaches was given by the Bush regime in denying Red Cross access to prisoners they were torturing, that is no example to follow.

On screen talent at the BBC now have an opportunity, presenters, chat show hosts, DJ’s can use their allotted broadcast time to give out the details of the DEC appeal. Those that do should be lauded for their integrity and professional courage, those who choose not to, well we can make our own choices about whether to include them in the media we consume from now on.

Those details-

Online: Click here to donate online

CAF Card: Click here to donate by CAF Card

Phone: Call our automated 24 hour credit card hotline 0370 60 60 900

Post: Make
cheques payable to DEC Gaza Crisis and post to DEC Gaza Crisis, PO Box
999, London EC3A 3AA or go to any Post Office quoting Freepay
number: 1210

You can also download our Gaza Donation by Post form to make your donation payment and send it to PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA

I think like many I have great affection, even loyalty to the BBC, it’s an institution that does make me proud. A long time ago working for it freelance it was thrilling to be in the same places The Goon Show was made, or On The Hour. And as a viewer, it makes some of the best programmes on Earth (Two Pints of Lager notwithstanding). So, much like a friend or family member who makes some appalling choices it makes it all the more acutely felt because of the relationship you have with the transgressor. From all accounts it is a tiny cabal of management who are holding firm in this decision while BBC staff find it appalling, so this is more of an intervention for a loved one who has gone astray, ended up in bad company and needs help, than an attack on the institution. It’s always difficult when you dig yourself into a hole hanging on for pride’s sake to the insistence you are right to admit you are wrong, it feels like defeat more than what it is- the intelligent and responsible admittance of reason. It takes a lot of ego to be head of a large institution which means reversing this decision will be even harder for those in power, but they must recognise they serve the BBC not that it serves their personal need to be ‘right’. The damage of continuing this ban to the BBC will be immense, another nail from the same batch that Hutton came from. Only one side is praising this ‘impartiality’ which of course by definition makes it not impartial at all.

6 Responses to “Not Anti Beeb”

  1. Mike Says:

    I just spent two hours writing a post on whether the BBC could be charged under the Corporate Manslaughter Act only to discover they (probably) slip under the wire on the fact the deaths occur outside UK territory. Even though the ‘harm’ (not transmitting the appeal) occurs in the UK.

    I thought it was reasonable to consider the managements decision a ‘gross breach’ of Health and Safety for an international public service broadcaster not to air an humanitarian appeal possibly resulting in hundreds of deaths of its ‘customers’.

    I also thought public sector bodies had an obligation under international human rights legislation to ‘pro-actively’ protect human life. (But I haven’t looked that one up yet.)

    Back to Google. Later.

  2. RickB Says:

    I like your angle but yeah there might be enough loopholes in the Corporate manslaughter act to make it impractical. Pro active in protecting human life and rights though I think might have legs, they had a choice either do something which would mean essential aid gets to injured people or not to, they chose not to, so…
    I guess they would argue a charity appeal is not direct aid as it requires third parties to respond, legally they might escape but certainly in every other way this is the worst blot on the BBC for a long time, as big as buckling on Hutton.

  3. Cal Says:

    This whole bbc debacle has become an embarrassment to public service broadcasting – Thompson’s stance is even more skewed considering the other major UK terrestrial channels have agreed to air it:

    http://musingsforamodernworld.blogspot.com/2009/01/bbc-should-be-ashamed.html

  4. RickB Says:

    Thanks Cal, I agree with your post entirely. Interestingly Thompson’s ‘blog’ has comments almost universally against him. This is turning into the exercise of unaccountable power by elites with the fig leaf of banal excuses as cover.

    The BBC sent this reply to my complaint-

    We note your disappointment at our decision not to broadcast an appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee to raise funds for Gaza.

    We decided not to broadcast the DEC’s public appeal because we wished to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of covering a continuing news story where issues of responsibility for civilian suffering and distress are intrinsic to the story and remain highly contentious. We also could not be confident that the aid resulting from audience donations could reach those it was intended for at a time of a fragile ceasefire and sporadic border access. We will of course continue to report the humanitarian story in Gaza.

    The BBC’s director-general Mark Thompson has therefore explained the decision in more detail in a number of television and radio broadcasts and online at our Editors’ blog. Please follow the link to read his explanation in full:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/01/bbc_and_the_gaza_appeal.html

    Please be assured that we have registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

    Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us.
    Regards
    BBC Complaints

    I replied-
    Thank you for you response, although clearly it was a standard one and Thompson’s response has already been pulled apart as utterly lacking merit or substance (not least by commenters on the post). I have also learned BBC staff are being told their jobs are at risk if they speak out on this issue, which hardly encourages confidence in the institutions ability to conduct an open and honest discourse. Unless there is an overwhelming record of supportive comments of the management’s stance then clearly the complaints procedure is a sham and thousands of people’s views are being disregarded for reason’s Thompson is not able to properly explain. The only people praising this decision are one extremely partisan side of an issue with a multitude of viewpoints, by definition that reveals the decision is not impartial but is in fact partial to that one element. What of the human rights and aid organisations in Israel who are trying to help Gaza? The BBC has snubbed them. Worst is what this does to the BBC’s reputation, it is now held in high esteem by a tiny minority pushing specific agendas, to the majority of viewers and listeners world wide it is now catastrophically compromised and form replies and a banal DG’s ‘blog’ do not rectify that. The acquiescence to Hutton was bad this is another terrible misstep away from true independence, impartiality and speaking truth to power.

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