Normally when Britain's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launches an aid appeal, major television channels provide slots for short video ads, often fronted by celebrities, explaining the emergency and how the public can donate money.
In late November, for example, when the coalition of 13 British-based aid agencies asked for funds for their work in eastern Congo, the BBC backed the campaign, airing a two-and-a-half minute film presented by actress Juliet Stevenson.
But not this time: British broadcasters declined to run adverts for the DEC's latest appeal "to help ease the desperate plight of people affected by the conflict in Gaza".
A BBC spokesman said:
"Along with other broadcasters, the BBC has decided not to broadcast the DEC's public appeal to raise funds for Gaza. The BBC's decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation, and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story." (Full)
Several UK ministers urged the BBC to recognise "immense human suffering" and show the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. 200 people protested in front of the BBC's studios.
Rivals ITV, Channel 4 and Five -at first supportive of the BBC decision- reversed their decision and will show the charity appeal. They said the issue "transcends politics". (Full)
Here is a summary of backlashing opinions on the BBC's stand. Where they took the decision not to air the appeal in order not to show a perceived bias, clearly it all turned against them. A strong bias was perceived after all.
Thanks to "E" for the tip.
Picture courtesy Wesam Saleh/Maan Images