Saturday, January 24, 2009

The BBC and the DEC

Hugely interesting to see the fallout over the BBC's refusal to broadcast a DEC appeal for Gaza

It seems the BBC has form in this area. In 2006, the DEC wanted to set up an appeal for Lebanon; at that time the BBC and other broadcasters turned down the ask, as the Guardian reported at the time (it's worth noting that the other broadcasters said they did agree with the BBC on that occasion compared to this time where Sky for one basically passed the buck by saying the DEC appeal could not be launched if everyone did not agree and as the BBC had taken that decision then it was out of their hands).

It is also worth remembering that the Balen Report of 2004 into the BBC's coverage of the Middle East was said to have been prompted by criticism of anti-Israeli  bias. The BBC is in an unenviable position.

There are three criteria that have to be met for a DEC appeal: if it is large and urgent enough; if help can get in to whichever area is to be the subject of the appeal and if there is enough public awareness.

The BBC has talked about the need for political impartiality and sensitivity; the issue as its critics have pointed out is that many DEC appeal do end up dealing with areas where there are political dimensions; the Darfur appeal, or the Burma appeal. Perhaps the message is that some places are more impartial and sensitive than others.

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