Saturday, January 24, 2009

BBC shoe in

The BBC was, of couse, the target of today's protest because of its pro-Israel bias in the coverage of the recent war. However, its decision to ban the DEC appeal on Gaza actually resulted in two ministers attacking it, including Ben Bradshaw (of all people!) who said that the BBC should stand up to the Israeli authorities from time to time, thus implying that they were taking their lead from Tel Aviv. This sort of made our case for us.

Mark Thompson, editor-in-chief of BBC News, has written a pathetic self-justificatory piece on the BBC's editors' blog. He repeats his argument that one of the criteria for rejecting the appeal was a concern that the aid would not be efficiently delivered. Now, I ask you: what the fuck does an overpaid BBC editor know about the delivery of aid? What do they know that 13 humanitarian organisations don't? He also repeats his claim that it would be 'contentious' to highlight the humanitarian situation there, because there is an ongoing debate about who bears responsibility. But that is nonsense. There is no contention about whether there is a humanitarian crisis: the only sense in which broadcasting such an appeal would be 'contentious' is that it would potentially offend the hardcore supporters of Israel. But even the pro-Israel Daily Telegraph is chastising the BBC for its decision. Now, if they backed down over the Ross and Brand nonsense, they can and should be made to back down over this, and fast. As the rally was under way today, news came through that ITV and Channel 4 would air the appeal, while Sky said it was considering its position. The more other television stations broadcast it, the more pressure will be on the BBC to reverse this contemptible decision.

Incidentally, I hear the BBC said on its Teletext service that only 200 had turned up at the protest. I don't know what the total turnout was, but the pictures I shall post later will give the lie to that preposterous figure. More pictures and footage are on the way but, for now, here is a quick shot from the show-throwing outside Broadcasting House.



And another (thanks Michael):



The police, having agreed it with the organisers, took all this in good humour. I regret to say they didn't keep their cool later on when they decided to wade into the crowd, fists and arms flying, ending up in a huge fight and arresting several people. I'll post the footage later and let you see for yourself. In the meantime, Ellis Sharp has more pics here

Okay, more pics:













And here is the fracas with the cops:



Some more footage: