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Gaza

Volume 492: debated on Tuesday 12 May 2009

The Petition of persons concerned at the BBC’s decision not to air the DEC’s Gaza Appeal

Declares that the International Committee of the Red Cross has said that conditions for the people of Gaza are “worse than Darfur” but the BBC refuses to allow the Disasters Emergency Committee to broadcast an appeal for aid; further declares the petitioners' agreement with Government Health Minister Ben Bradshaw, who has said the reasons the BBC has given for blocking an appeal for humanitarian aid are “completely feeble” and that it was “an inexplicable decision”.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to do everything in its power to urge the BBC to reconsider its decision and to contact the Disasters Emergency Committee as a matter of urgency so that its appeal can be broadcast nationally.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. John Leech, Official Report, 10 March 2009; Vol. 489, c. 270.]

[P000323]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport:

This is a matter for the BBC. Under the terms of the BBC’s Charter and Agreement, the BBC is independent of Government and there is no provision for Government to intervene in the BBC’s day-to-day editorial matters.

The BBC Charter and Agreement contain specific and detailed provisions on impartiality. A requirement has been placed on the BBC to treat controversial subjects with due accuracy and impartiality, both in the Corporation’s news services and in the more general field of programmes dealing with matters of public policy or industrial controversy.

Within this framework, it is the BBC’s job to make judgments about what individual programmes should contain. It is a long-standing principle that the Government do not interfere in programme matters, either on arrangements for scheduling or on content.