Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Papers on BBC's Gaza appeal row

A Palestinian woman and her child
The appeal is to raise money for emergency supplies in Gaza
The BBC's decision not to broadcast a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for aid to Gaza has come under scrutiny in newspapers and in political blogs.

The Times's leader says the BBC has erred: the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is not a matter of opinion, it insists, but "a simple statement of fact".

The Independent says the affair is "another BBC scandal marked by flip-flopping and slow reactions". Columnist Philip Hensher complains that "the BBC's requirement for impartiality has enabled it, yet again, to do nothing".

The Daily Mail says that the BBC's reputation for impartiality "was shredded long ago" as a result of to its "institutionally liberal attitude", and urges it to reconsider.

The story has attracted substantial - mostly negative - coverage in the Arab media. Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, says the BBC has been "caught red-handed" in its bias towards Israel.

Mazin Hammad in Qatar's al-Watan said the BBC resembled an "extension for the Israeli mass media", and urged Arab viewers and listeners to boycott the BBC.

A leader in the Daily Mirror attacks the decision, which it blames on "jelly-legged" BBC executives. It adds that licence-fee payers will wonder why corporation chiefs "consistently bow to every hysterical headline from the usual suspects".

Janet Daley in the Daily Telegraph says the BBC was right not to broadcast the appeal, as its purpose is "making television and radio programmes, not foreign policy". But she argues that the requirement of neutrality on a publicly-funded broadcaster is an "impossible anomaly" in the internet age.

In the Sun, Trevor Kavanagh agrees that the uproar over the decision is justified. "The Beeb is so desperate to avoid offending anyone that ends up offending EVERYONE," he writes.

Peter Preston in the Guardian says that denying the DEC appeal airtime may be "potty", but entirely in keeping with BBC guidelines adopted in the wake of the Hutton report. His solution? "Burn the rule books."

Blogging for Biased BBC, David Vance suggests the corporation's decision may be a clever example of "triangulation". Executives would have been seeking cover, he says, after "three weeks of pro-Hamas propaganda dressed up as news reporting".

Sunder Katwala on the Fabian Society's Next Left blog says the affair betrays an "unnecessary lack of confidence in the BBC's news journalism".



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