Σάββατο, 24 Ιανουαρίου 2009

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The UK's international development secretary urged broadcasters to reconsider airing the appeal [AFP]

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has defended its decision not to participate in a television fund-raising appeal for Gaza, saying it did want to avoid compromising public confidence in its impartiality.

Normally all broadcasters show Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeals without charge, but in a statement on Friday, the BBC said: "Along with other broadcasters, the BBC has decided not to broadcast the DEC's public appeal to raise funds for Gaza.

"The BBC's 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."


DEC 'unhappy'

The DEC is an umbrella organisation representing a number of aid agencies, including Action Aid, Save the Children, the British Red Cross, Islamic Relief and Oxfam.

The organisation said its members will be providing immediate humanitarian aid, such as medicine, food and blankets, and will be involved in reconstruction in Gaza.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Brendan Gormley, the chief executive of the DEC, said he was unhappy about losing the ability to broadcast the DEC's appeal into people's homes.

DEC said its members would provide immediate humanitarian aid in Gaza [AFP]
He said: "I'm upset because the tradition over the years has been that we collaborate [with the media], and you know yourself the power of the media."

He said their appeal was a "a simple and cost effective way" for people to show that they care.

"All I can say is if there are journalistic problems with agreeing then that's their call," he said.

Gormley said the DEC had three criteria that needed to be met before it launched an appeal, namely that there was an overwhelming unmet need, that they could do something in a timely and effective way, and that there is public concern.

Gormley said he felt all three had been met and that any money raised by the DEC would go to people on the ground.

"A huge amount needs to be done in opening up access. We need a little bit more cash to alleviate suffering. I'm just sorry that we haven't been able to find an agreement," he said.


Government appeal

Douglas Alexander, Britain's international development secretary, has written to Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, as well as the heads of ITV and Sky, the other two British broadcasters who normally air the appeals, urging them to reconsider airing the appeal.

In his letter, Alexander said: "As you know, the support of broadcasters is highly effective and extremely valued by the group of charities and non-governmental organisations who provide humanitarian relief under the DEC umbrella.

"The situation is developing on the ground and I understand that Oxfam, Save the Children and others have been able to get some aid into Gaza today.

"But it is clear that the humanitarian situation will be dire for some time to come, with around 100,000 people having left their homes and more than 50,000 people in UN emergency shelters.

"While I recognise that this is a decision rightly taken by broadcasters, I hope that in light of the great human suffering still taking place in Gaza, you will reconsider your decision in relation to the DEC appeal."

Source: Agencies (posted in Al Jazeera)

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