Tuesday 27 January 2009

BBC in new row

The BBC finds itself in the spotlight (again) for all the wrong reasons (again). This time it is the refusal of the BBC to air the DEC's Gaza Crisis Appeal; a decision (incidentally) also taken by Sky.

The appeal has aired on all the other terrestrial channels (ITV, C4 and Five). The BBC has refused to air the appeal, citing impartiality as their reason. This decision has caused protests outside Broadcasting House, actors and directors refusing to ever work for the Corporation again and protesters burning their TV licences.

All of this has given the appeal far more exposure than it would ever have got if it had simply been aired on the BBC. Let's face it - most of us switch off after the show we watched finishes, or channel surf. Very few people (when nearly every TV now has more than the five terrestrial channels) sit and watch one channel for hours on end.

If the point of the appeal is to raise awareness and get charity donations. Well awareness raised. In the current climate I'm not sure that charity giving is quite what it once was anyway. And how many people are persuaded to give money by disaster appeals on TV anyway? Unless you have been living under a proverbial rock you cannot fail to be aware of what is going on in the Middle East. You're either planning on giving money to charities or you aren't.

This whole furore is yet more complaints on something which really doesn't merit the amount of attention that it is generating. Yes, the BBC is publicly funded, so yes Licence payers have a right to not like how the BBC does (or does not) spend their Licence Fee. But you can't please all of the people all of the time. I'd rather the BBC didn't spend my Licence Fee paying Jonathan Ross's inflated salary - but I haven't burnt my TV Licence in protest.

And it isn't like the BBC are ignoring the situation - far from it. They report the entire story in a very straightforward manner on their website - and also give the web address and telephone number of the DEC whose appeal they are refusing to broadcast. How's that for unbiased!