In 2009, the BBC refused to air a national appeal for humanitarian aid in Gaza, in the process drawing some 40,000 complaints — and about 2,000 protesters outside Broadcasting House in London. At the time, the broadcaster said the decision was made “to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality.” This week has seen the corporation take a different stance. On Friday, the BBC and other UK broadcasters — inlcuding Sky, which also did not show the 2009 appeal — will give over free airtime to the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organization of 13 leading UK charities, which will seek help for people affected by the conflict in Gaza. The BBC One broadcasts will follow the 6 PM and 10 PM news bulletins, according to BBC News. The 2009 BBC decision fell to then-Director General Mark Thompson, who since has moved on to be President and CEO of The New York Times Company. He was backed up by the BBC Trust but criticized by MPs and other government figures as well as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The BBC still is smarting from severe damage to its public image brought on by editorial scandals at flagship program Newsnight as well as other managerial failings. News of the broadcaster’s move to OK the Gaza appeal comes one day after there was public outrage over London’s Tricycle Cinema pulling out of the UK Jewish Film Festival because of the latter’s backing by the Israeli Embassy, something the Tricycle maintained was a means to aim for “a place of political neutrality.”
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