TV stations decline to air Gaza appeal

Broadcasters fear Disasters Emergency Committee fundraiser will jeopardise their political neutrality

The Disasters Emergency Committee's Gaza crisis appeal has had a low-key launch after UK broadcasters declined to run television adverts asking for donations.

The appeal was launched on 22 January to raise funds for victims of the conflict in the region after the UN declared that about $2bn in aid was required for the rebuilding of infrastructure alone.

However, the DEC, a coalition of 13 UK-based humanitarian aid agencies, said that it had been unable to run a TV advertising campaign because broadcasters feared that adopting the campaign would jeopardise their political neutrality.

"We haven't been able to run the TV campaigns that we normally do because the broadcasters couldn't decide whether to support the campaign," said Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the DEC.

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."

Despite this, the DEC has launched a national press and radio campaign, facilitating interviews and conferences with specialist spokesmen in Gaza, as well as a viral and banner advertising drive.

Gormley said the DEC had decided not to use celebrities to publicise the campaign.

"The sensitivity in this context is that we would have to be impartial in who we choose," he said. "Some people have aligned themselves with a specific political purpose, but the DEC must retain its purely humanitarian mandate."

The appeal will end officially in July 2009, after which the DEC will redirect those who still wish to donate to the relevant charities.

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