ENTERTAINMENT

BBC News Chief Fran Unsworth Says Jon Snow's Emotional Video About Gaza Children Would Have Failed BBC Impartiality

09/09/2014 16:34 BST | Updated 09/09/2014 20:59 BST

BBC News' deputy chief Fran Unsworth said today that she would not have considered Jon Snow's emotional video about the children of Gaza to be appropriate, had he been an employee of the BBC.

Jon Snow's video which he recorded following his return from Gaza during the recent conflict, may have gone viral when it was put on Channel 4's website, but TV bosses today disagreed about whether they would have broadcast it.

jon snow

Jon Snow pleaded for an end to the conflict in Gaza, after spending a week in the conflict zone

John Hardie, chief executive of ITN News, which produces news packages for Jon Snow's broadcaster Channel 4 as well as other broadcasters and websites, said the video would not be suitable for broadcast news.

"That would never constitute anything we'd put on broadcast news. We don't open up television broadcast news to that kind of sentimental expression," he said in a session at the Royal Television Society's conference on power, politics and the media. But he pointed out that the video had never been intended for television use, only online as a personal video blog by Jon Snow.

"Jon had spent a week in Gaza, and it basically expressed his despair in what he'd seen. Was there a bias in it? It was a bias in favour of finding a peaceful outcome, and against the killing of children.

"It was a ventilation from Jon. After 40 years, if anyone has the right to do that, Jon has."

Sky News chief John Ryley appeared to go further, saying he would have perhaps shown it on his channel, with appropriate signposting. "We expect broadcasters as fellow human beings to neuter and cauterise their own emotion to what they see. Jon has seen a lot of suffering around the world in the last 40 years, and we should respect that emotion."

BBC chief Fran Unsworth was of the opposing view, stressing the need for impartiality by news presenters.

"If one of our presenters had done something like that in a private capacity on YouTube, I'd have had to have said, this isn't really appropriate in terms of your public role as an impartial presenter of BBC news programmes. We take it very seriously."

In an emotional appeal in the video, which has garnered more than 770,000 views on YouTube and been shared more than 24,000 times on the Huffington Post UK, a visibly moved Jon Snow called for an end to the violence that has caused the deaths and wounding of so many children.

He said: "We cannot let it go on. if our reporting is worth anything, if your preparedness to listen and watch and read is anything to go by, then together we can make a difference."

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Back to school in Gaza

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