Insights from the UK and beyond
BBC – taking a stand on Gaza
The BBC has been roundly condemned at home for its refusal to broadcast an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee, a coalition of 13 aid agencies.
It says it does not want to be seen to be taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and that broadcasting the appeal could jeopardise its carefully cultivated position of impartiality. Sky News has followed suit.
But criticism has been fierce, including from the government and the Church of England.
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has accused the BBC of “taking sides”. He said on Friday: “This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity.
Former BBC foreign correspondent Martin Bell said the BBC should admit it had made a mistake. He claimed “a culture of timidity had crept” into the corporation. “I am completely appalled,” he said. “It is a grave humanitarian crisis and the people who are suffering are children. They have been caught out on this question of balance.”
BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said: “Inevitably an appeal would use pictures which are the same or similar to those we would be using in our news programmes but would do so with the objective of encouraging public donations. The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story.”
What do you think? Are Sky and the BBC being too cautious or do they have a point?