BBC, Sky keep on embargo on Gaza aid appeal

The BBC and Sky kept on their embargo on charity aid appeal, a civilian initiative, for the victims of Israel's offensive in Gaza despite criticism and protests.

BBC, Sky keep on embargo on Gaza aid appeal


The BBC and Sky kept on their embargo on Monday on air a charity appeal, a civilian initiative, for the victims of Israel's offensive in Gaza.

The accusations brought more than 2,000 to the streets of London, protesting the BBC decision to refuse air time for the appeal.

The DEC is an umbrella organization for British non-profits like the British Red Cross, Oxfam and World Vision, which aims at uniting resources to best serve populations in emergency situations. Many of their appeals for aid, including for victims of the Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone in December 2008, the Darfur and Chad Crisis Appeal in February 2008, and the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal in 2004, have been aired on the BBC.

But the BBC and Sky, which have 24-hour news channels watched in the Middle East and have closely followed Israel's three-week war in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, a third of them children, have said they will not broadcast the appeal.

"Our commitment as journalists is to cover all sides of that story with uncompromising objectivity," John Ryley, the head of Sky News, said in a statement on Monday, which followed the BBC's weekend announcement that it would not air the appeal.


Impartiality in coverage

"That is why, after very careful consideration, we have concluded that broadcasting an appeal for Gaza at this time is "incompatible with our role" in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation to our audiences," Ryley said.

Until Sky's decision, the BBC had stood alone against the appeal, drawing criticism from politicians, media commentators and the public, with 11,000 viewers registering complaints.

Israel blocked international media and journalists to enter Gaza during its assult, but a few internationals were actually in the Strip when the fighting broke out.

While several international news agencies employ local journalists in Gaza, they are still often accused of being impartial in their coverage because they are Palestinian, reported Maan news agency.

Many of the international press was stationed on the Israeli side of the border wall, with free access to Israeli commentators and spokespeople.

According to Journalist Peter Chonka , BBC coverage lacks "any contextual discussion of the blockade of Gaza." Other accusations include that reporting "generally relied on the narrative expressed by various Israeli spokesmen and women who are given a remarkably open platform to define the terms of the debate."

Criticism and protests

Leading figures in the Church of England also joined the criticism of the BBC, which is funded by taxpayers, with John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, saying the money was only for those who were hungry, sick, wounded or need of shelter.

"This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief," he said, referring to the democratically elected Islamist group that has run Gaza since early 2006.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 kept the streets of London, protesting the BBC decision to refuse air time for the appeal.

BBC executive also took 11,000 complaints about aid appeal embargo.

It is not the first time the BBC has refused to air appeals for the Disasters Emergency Committee, which have raised up to $30 million in the past -- it did not run an appeal for Lebanon after Israel's attacks on Lebanon Hezbollah there in 2006.

A Disasters Emergency Committee spokeswoman said she understood the BBC and Sky's decision but added: "Impartiality for us is meeting the humanitarian needs, which are massive."

She said funds raised from the appeal, which will use television news footage to draw attention to the destruction in Gaza, would be directed only to Palestinians, more than 5,300 of whom were wounded.

The IFJ sent a delegation to Gaza as soon as they could enter the area, to document crimes against civilians and human rights violations. On concluding their emergency mission, they recommended "A full investigation by the United Nations of targeting of media by Israel in violation of international law."

Head of the delegation Aiden White also noted "Israel has much to answer for and must be held accountable by the international community."

Reuters

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2009, 17:04
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