Sky News has joined the BBC in refusing to broadcast an appeal for the victims of the war in Gaza.
Head of Sky News John Ryley said today that the decision not to air the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal was in the interests of impartiality and not based on the validity of the appeal.
“The conflict in Gaza forms part of one of the most challenging and contentious stories for any news organisation to cover,” he said.
“Our commitment as journalists is to cover all sides of that story with uncompromising objectivity.
“We have provided, and we will continue to provide, extensive coverage from Gaza and from the wider region on the conflict and its human consequences for people on both sides.
“Our team is on the ground in the region and will continue to cover the story in the coming days and weeks.
He added: “The absolute impartiality of our output is fundamental to Sky News and its journalism.
“That is why, after very careful consideration, we have concluded that broadcasting an appeal for Gaza at this time is incompatible with our role in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation to our audiences in the UK and around the world.
‘It is important to state that this decision is not a judgement on the good intentions of the appeal. No one could fail to be touched by the human suffering on both sides of the conflict, which has been the focus of much of our own reporting in the region.”
The decision comes after mounting pressure on the BBC to broadcast the appeal following more than 10,000 complaints from the public.
An estimated 5,000 protestors took part in a march to Trafalgar Square in London at the weekend, during which some demonstrators threw shoes at the BBC’s Broadcasting House.
Labour MP Richard Burden will table a motion in parliament today which has been backed by over 50 MPs, urging the BBC to reconsider its decision not to air the appeal.
Commercial terrestrial broadcasters are set to show the Disasters Emergency Committee advertisement for the first time today. ITV, Channel 4 and Five have all agreed to broadcast it.
Sky News head of foreign news Adrian Wells said the fact that Sky was widely watched in the Middle East contributed to its decision.
“We are solely a news channel and widely seen in the Middle East. The broadcast may affect our reporting in ways that we cannot fully foresee,” he said on a Sky News live blog this afternoon.
“The judgements were finely made in this case and in future a different approach might be taken. Let me say that Sky News has received no favour nor lobbying from the Israeli authorities.”
He added: “We do not control the content of the DEC appeal. Obviously we have absolute confidence and control over our own journalism but we do not have the same control over the charity appeal.
“We cannot be as sure about its content and as a consequence it is difficult for us as a news channel to host it.”