Emergency Gaza appeal airs, but not on BBC

LONDON (JTA) — An emergency appeal for Gaza aired on British television stations, but not the London-based global broadcasters BBC and Sky.

Police evacuated a group of protesters Monday night who entered the BBC Television Center in West London and chanted "BBC Shame on You."

Stop the War Coalition, the organization behind recent anti-Israel demonstrations in Britain, is calling on its members to cancel their TV License in protest of the BBC’s decision not to broadcast Monday night’s appeal. TV License is an annual charge levied on Britons with a television set and is the main source of funding for the BBC.

The BBC in the past few days has received thousands of e-mails for and against its decision not to broadcast the appeal, with the majority protesting the decision.

Views have been mixed in the British media. Some commentators not only justified the BBC’s decision but also criticized some of the charities involved in the appeal.

Dominic Lawson wrote in the Independent newspaper that Christian Aid, one of those charities, "can no longer be considered an honest broker" after calling on British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to "push for the European Union to suspend its talks with Israel on upgrading relations" because Israel was "in breach of international humanitarian law in targeting civilians in Gaza."

Both the BBC and Sky claimed that broadcasting the appeal would compromise their impartiality. While the BBC is a public broadcaster and has been facing public criticism, Sky, a commercial broadcaster, has not been in the spotlight.

In 2006 the BBC refused a similar request to broadcast an emergency appeal for Lebanon.

About $1.9 million has been collected for the Gazan appeal, far less than the amount donated to previous, less controversial appeals.
 

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