A call for the mass return of television licences will be made today unless the BBC reverses its decision not to broadcast a charity appeal.
On Sunday, some 50 people appeared at BBC Scotland’s headquarters in Glasgow, protesting at the BBC’s refusal to broadcast an appeal to ease the plight of people caught up in a conflict in Gaza between Israeli and Palestinian armed forces.
The BBC claims such a broadcast would compromise its reputation for impartiality, not least because of the continuing conflict in the Middle East.
Today, BBC Scotland Controller, Ken MacQuarrie, is meeting representatives of the Glasgow Stop the War Coalition, which organised Sunday’s protest. A media conference is scheduled for 4.30pm, in front of the BBC Scotland HQ.
In a statement, the Stop the War Coalition says: “If Mr MacQuarrie does not announce that the BBC will show the Gaza Appeal, [we will call] for a mass return of BBC licenses, to begin immediately.”
Noon update, from Pete Murray, National Union of Journalists’ vice-president and union rep at BBC Scotland: “Myself and others in the NUJ leadership have been talking at some length to people in the Stop The War Coalition in Glasgow and London about the ‘BBC licence boycott’. The NUJ has itself condemned the BBC’s decision not to transmit the DEC appeal and we understand that people want to register their sense of outrage and we support the campaign to reverse that decision.
“However, the NUJ is concerned that the jobs of BBC workers could be put at risk by a mass boycott of the licence fee. It would be akin to protesting against plans to close a school or nursery by refusing to pay the Council Tax. The NUJ has campaigned for many years for the BBC to be more open and responsive to its audience and we believe the agreement by BBC Scotland management to meet a delegation from StW and Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a significant step forward – indeed, we would encourage the BBC executives in London to consider a similar face-to-face dialogue with campaigners there.