BBC & Sky say “No appeal” to Gaza victims

January 29, 2009

The BBC and Sky TV are continuing to hold the line that broadcasting a humanitarian appeal for aid to help rebuild the Gaza Strip would compromise their journalistic credibility and their ability to objectively report on the Middle East conflict.

Overnight (Kiwi time) a group of protestors staged a sit-in at the BBC HQ in London and burned their TV licences. Meanwhile a group of British MPs is backing a motion in the House of Commons that would attempt to force the BBC to broadcast the appeal.

Meanwhile the appeal has already raised in the vicinity of $NZ 1.6 million.

The refusal of Sky to broadcast the appeal makes some sense, it is, after all, owned by Rupert Murdoch who is very pro-Israel and regularly feted by the Zionist lobby in the USA. Sky, like Fox in the US, is still neo-con in outlook and would never compromise Murdoch’s links with Israel.

However, the BBC case is more nuanced and I’m still struggling with the issue of credibility and compromise.

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Gaza appeal creates row in UK media

January 27, 2009

The refusal of the BBC and Sky TV to broadcast a charity appeal for victims of  Israeli ground and air attacks in Gaza earlier this month (Jan 2009), is causing outrage in Britain.

Church leaders and MPs have joined in calls for the BBC and Sky TV to join Channels Four and Five in broadcasting the appeal video, produced by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

The whole fracas raises some very interesting questions about the line between news and advertorial and the editorial independence of news organisations reporting on the controversial conflict between Israel and the Hamas organisation, which controls Gaza and has been firing Qassam rockets into Israeli settlements.

The video is available on the Guardian’s website.

The BBC’s Director-General, wearing his “editor-in-chief” hat, argues that broadcasting the appeal would compromise the organisation’s impartiality in the coverage of an ongoing news story. This seems, at face value to be a persuasive argument.

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Controversy good for the Brand brand?

November 1, 2008

A perfect media storm has been building in London all week. The row over Russell Brand and Jonathon Ross’ stupid phone prank has claimed a number of BBC scalps already and more could follow. But, it seems that Brand’s brand could benefit from the fuss.

[Non-UK mediaphiles click here for some background on this story]

Interviewed in the Daily Telegraph today [Friday 31 Oct], several leading British PR executives indicated that Brand’s fame and fortune can only grow as a result of the stink:

Mike Mathieson, chief executive of media agency Cake, said: “In Russell Brand’s case, there is no such thing as being too controversial. Jonathan Ross is a different case, because his behaviour has to justify his enormous salary.

“But for Russell Brand, this whole episode has given him added credibility with young people who can’t understand what all the fuss is about.” [Anita Singh in the Telegraph]

There’s another telling point here – that Brand’s young audience don’t get the joke. Why is it that crass sexual humour, betrayal of friends and undergraduate antics seems so funny to Brand’s fans?

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