Politicians and Muslim leaders describe broadcaster's refusal to air aid appeal as inexplicable, feeble and dereliction of duty
Nicholas Watt and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 24 January 2009
"The BBC came under renewed pressure from the government today to "stand up" to the Israeli authorities and broadcast an appeal to raise emergency funds for Gaza.
Douglas Alexander, the international development secretary, yesterday rebuked Britain's broadcasters for refusing to air an emergency appeal for Gaza by Britain's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
In a letter to the BBC, Sky and ITV, Alexander expressed his "disappointment" that the appeal would not be broadcast.
Today the health minister Ben Bradshaw, a former BBC journalist, described the decision not to screen the appeal as "inexplicable" and dismissed the corporation's explanation for its position as "completely feeble".
The BBC refused to broadcast the humanitarian appeal for Gaza on the grounds that it did not want to risk public confidence in its impartiality. The decision meant other broadcasters also refused to air the appeal by the committee, the umbrella group for 13 aid charities......
The former Government minister Tony Benn will today join a protest against the decision outside the BBC's Broadcasting House. He used an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to broadcast an appeal himself, urging listeners to send gifts to PO Box 999 London EC3A 3AA, or donate via freepay account 1210 at the Post Office.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it viewed the BBC's decision to disallow an appeal by the DEC for Gaza as "a serious dereliction of its public duty".
In a statement, the MCB said: "We urge the corporation's governors to urgently reverse its decision which would severely jeopardise efforts to raise millions of pounds of voluntary contributions for emergency humanitarian assistance in Gaza.
"In sabotaging the DEC appeal broadcast, the BBC is clearly acting against the public interest. As custodians of the public trust in the BBC its governors must act immediately to avoid the blame of being complicit in denying humanitarian aid to the desperate people of Gaza."......"
COMMENT: Interestingly, a current poll by the Guardian shows that 81% of the public believes that the BBC is wrong in refusing to air the appeal. Does the BBC really represent the public interest or that of the Zionist lobby??