The ‘British Broadcasting Corporation’, iconic beacon of integrity and public service fulfilment, is waking up to a Monday morning full of controversy, politics and protests and rightly so.
Director General Mark Thompson this weekend refused to air a humanitarian appeal for the DEC (Disasters Emergency Commission) on behalf on the thousands of afflicted, homeless and innocent Palestinians living in the Gaza strip.
His reasoning’s, he attempts to explain, is that by advertising this appeal, the BBC would be sacrificing its impartiality that it (allegedly) strives so hard to provide.
Now, this refusal would be fully understandable if Thompson were being asked to broadcast a political advert from Hamas, appealing for supporters in the fight against Israel, just as it would if the shoe was on the other foot. What we’re dealing for here however, is a humanitarian plea to help support the poor afflicted people who have lost their homes, livelihood and families through the effects of a war they didn’t ask for.
This whole affair reeks of the petty and pointless bureaucracy that is increasingly exemplifying British society. These poor civilians already have their lives turned upside-down by the politics of out-of-touch middle-aged men, and now their access to aid is being prevented by yet another out-of-touch, middle-aged man.
I understand that post ‘Sachs-gate’, old Aunty is trying to make sure nothing controversial slips through its production net. (Whoops, did he really say that about Manuel’s daughter?) Thompson, speaking from the corner he has so expertly manoeuvred himself into, also claims that he has no way of knowing that money donated through the BBC would get to the correct recipients. Call me cynical, but this wasn’t exactly a problem when the BBC was ‘fixing’ children’s competitions and still inviting kids to text in at a credit crunch busting £1 a text. Hhmm.
Rightly or wrongly, the Israeli / Palestinian conflict shows no signs of abating any time soon. As a public service broadcaster with its entire ethos focused around that very notion of ‘public service’, Thompson needs to realise that the BBC has a duty to serve the wider international public, using its international visibility and influence as a vehicle for good rather than bleating on about this prolonged Jonathan Ross affair.