Tuesday, January 27, 2009

MPs up pressure on BBC over Gaza boycott

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 16:54:49 GMT     |    PressTV

Seven people were reportedly arrested by the police during 
the rally outside the BBC's Broadcasting House in 
central London.
British Members of Parliament have filed a motion condemning the BBC's refusal to broadcast an appeal on behalf of the people of Gaza.

The motion - to be tabled on Monday - has so far received the support of 51 lawmakers from across the House of Commons.

The move comes after the BBC rejected pleas from government officials to air an appeal, which aims to raise millions of dollars for the thousands without food, medicine and shelter in Gaza.

The BBC, which is funded by an obligatory license fee paid by every British household with a television set, is required by its charter to be impartial.

While the BBC does not screen commercial advertising, it does broadcast charity appeals.

Nearly 5,000 people demonstrated in front of the BBC's Broadcasting House in central London on Saturday over the British broadcaster's stance. Seven people were reportedly arrested.

Veteran Labour parliamentarian Tony Benn, who spoke to 200 protesters outside Broadcasting House, criticized the British Broadcasting Corporation saying it sought to appease Israel by refusing to broadcast the humanitarian appeal.

"To deny the help that the aid agencies and the UN need at this moment in time is incomprehensible and it follows the bias in BBC reporting of this crisis, which has been widely criticized," said Benn, who is president of the Stop the War Coalition.

The channel has so far resisted pressure and is standing firm on its decision not to show the advert for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Rival channels ITV, Channel 4 and Five are to show the DEC charity appeal. Sky, however, says it is still considering the request.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which brings together many major charity groups including the British Red Cross, Save the Children and Oxfam, is scheduled to launch its two-minute appeal on Monday.

The BBC argued on Saturday that the situation in Gaza may not allow for aid delivery; adding that running the advert might dent the corporation's reputation for impartiality.

Britain's Culture Secretary Andy Burnham defended the BBC's choice on Sunday, saying that the publicly-funded channel is "right to make its own judgment" over whether to air the charity appeal. 

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