The DEC is a group of British humanitarian relief charities. They agree to launch co-ordinated appeals when there is a significant humanitarian problem requiring quick and extensive fundraising. As part of the appeal process, terrestrial broadcasters usually show an appeal on behalf of the DEC.
Israel 1 – 0 BBC
The DEC has launched an appeal to raise funds to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The BBC has said it will not show the appeal. ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 originally said they would not show it but have subsequently changed their minds. The BBC’s Director General says he is concerned that:
He also pointed out that the BBC has declined to broadcast other DEC appeals (though he did not say which ones).
That there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is not in doubt. The BBC has been reporting the situation there over the past weeks. The BBC has broadcast previous DEC appeals. It broadcast an appeal for relief to the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is a conflict zone. All humanitarian crises have a political and controversial dimension. The cyclone appeal for Burma (Myanmar) was exacerbated by the corrupt and oppressive government of the country. The tsunami which caused such destruction across south Asia might well have carried a lower death toll if the affected nations had been wealthier. The BBC clearly felt that broadcasting these appeals would not be interpreted as taking a political stance. What is distinct about Gaza then?
Broadcasting the DEC appeal would, no doubt, be interpreted by the government of Israel as taking a political stance. Israel is active and sophisticated in the pressure it puts upon news organisations. This is an appeal for aid to flow to Palestinians to ameliorate the actions of the IDF in Gaza. It has a political dimension. If the BBC was correct to broadcast the other DEC appeals, it would be correct to broadcast this appeal. It is wrong to give in to pressure and media manipulation, even from democratically elected governments, even if they very are good at it.