The head of the UN atomic watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the British broadcaster’s refusal to air a Gaza charity appeal, the IAEA said today.
A spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said that the “director general has cancelled his scheduled BBC World Service TV and radio interviews because of the BBC management’s refusal to broadcast the DEC’s (Disasters Emergency Committee) humanitarian appeal for Gaza. He believes this decision violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people irrespective of who is right or wrong.”
In London, the BBC said it regretted ElBaradei’s decision. ”We regret that Mr Mohamed ElBaradei is unable to participate in an interview with the BBC while he is at Davos,” the Swiss venue of the annual World Economic Forum, a spokesman told AFP. ”Our audiences around the world remain interested in what he has to say about a range of topics and we hope he will accept an invitation at another time,” the spokesman said.
Both the BBC and Sky News refused to air the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella group of 13 charities including Oxfam and the British Red Cross, which kicks in with coordinated fundraising after disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. ITV, Channel 4 and Five, Britain’s three other terrestrial television broadcasters, have all aired the appeal.
And top Church of England archbishops, government ministers, opposition spokesmen, more than 11,000 viewers and 50 lawmakers have called for the BBC to reconsider its decision. But BBC director-general Mark Thompson insists that the corporation will not change its mind.
Egyptian-born ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work at the IAEA, is scheduled to step down in November after three terms as the UN nuclear watchdog’s chief.