The Guardian, Tuesday 27 January 2009
"As the Gaza appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee was broadcast on ITV and Channel 4 and Five last night, the refusal of the BBC and Sky to do so remained puzzling. If Mark Thompson's core objection was that it would have compromised the impartiality of the BBC's reporting of the conflict, then what of the other appeals DEC has mounted and the BBC has screened with no qualms? Congo, Darfur and Chad, Liberia, Kosovo, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia were all man-made disasters for which DEC launched major appeals.
Even the cyclone appeal for Burma had profoundly political implications, as the military junta blocked access of aid agencies.....
This is not an issue of BBC independence. It is about the ends to which it exercises that independence. By rejecting the campaign in principle, the BBC is taking a partisan stance. To object to using news images of the destruction and suffering in Gaza in the service of a relief campaign is to agree with those who claim that humanitarian relief to Gaza cannot be delivered in a humanitarian way, because Hamas is in charge. Israel used this argument to justify the blockade that preceded the 22-day war. And it will continue to argue in the same way as it starts to withhold each bag of cement or metal bar intended for reconstruction, on the grounds that the materials could be used to build Hamas's bunkers, or missile launchers. The ability of the BBC to report unfolding events in Gaza impartially will be diminished as a result."