BBC's refusal to screen Gaza appeal 'must not set precedent'

DEC responds to BBC Trust's report into broadcaster's decision

The BBC's decision not to broadcast an appeal for victims of the Gaza conflict on the grounds that it could compromise the broadcaster's political neutrality must not set a precedent for the future, the Disasters Emergency Committee has warned.

The DEC's comments came in response to a report from the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, which said it would not overturn BBC director general Mark Thompson's decision not to broadcast the appeal because it might lead people to believe the BBC was taking sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The trust concluded that the decision was "reasonable given the importance of preserving the reputation of the BBC for impartiality".

In a statement, a DEC spokesman said: "We respect the BBC's right to decide on whether to broadcast the appeal, but we believe it would be unfortunate if the additional hurdle imposed in this specific situation set a precedent for future appeals.

"The three criteria agreed with broadcasters for launching DEC appeals – scale of need, ability of DEC members to deliver aid and evidence of public support – have stood the test of time."

The BBC and Sky, which also refused to broadcast the appeal, received more than 40,000 complaints. When the BBC rejected the complaints, a number of complainants took the matter to the BBC Trust.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are pleased with the trust's clear findings that the director general's decision on the Gaza appeal was reasonable in order to protect the impartiality of the BBC, given the deeply divisive nature of the conflict, and that he acted correctly throughout."

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