Iranian news broke UK media regulations

Gaza flotilla report was presented by Blair’s sister-in-law.

By JONNY PAUL
August 8, 2010 02:13
1 minute read.
Tony Blair's sister-in-law Lauren Booth

lauren booth 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

LONDON – Britain’s media regulator ruled last week that the Iranian news channel Press TV breached broadcasting code rules on impartiality in a program on the Gaza flotilla incident presented by Tony Blair’s sister-in-law.

Lauren Booth, a pro-Palestinian activist and a sister of Cherie Blair, is a presenter on Press TV’s Remember Palestine program.

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In an episode that discussed May 31’s flotilla incident, screened on June 5, The Office of Communications, known as Ofcom, ruled that it was one-sided and failed to offer alternative views.

According to Ofcom, the program began with a pro-Palestinian song and anti-Israel images, featured an array of recorded and live interviews with similar views and included descriptions of the incident such as “barbaric” and “massacre.”

“Israeli commandos committed a massacre of innocent civilians sailing aid ships to the besieged Gaza Strip... This was obviously a barbarous attack on civilians... As Turkey buries its murdered citizens... the brave men and women on the ships in one move have shifted world opinion against Israeli apartheid,” Booth said during the show.

Gaza-based journalist Yousef al-Helou said that Israel’s “piracy ended with a massacre.”

The media regulator said that the content “could be interpreted as being highly critical of the actions of the Israeli government and its military forces in this case.”

“In summary, the program accused the Israeli government of a massacre and of breaking international law and human rights.

“We considered the broadcaster did not provide sufficient evidence of alternative views within the program. Overall, the program gave a one-sided view on this matter of political controversy,” Ofcom ruled.

Press TV called the decision “unsound,” accused Ofcom of “lashing out” and maintained that the program’s guests were entitled to freedom of expression.

“The intensity of the descriptions in the program merely reflected the general atmosphere around the world,” the Iranian governmentrun news channel maintained.

In its ruling, Ofcom warned that their right to freedom of expression is “not absolute” as they must also maintain due impartiality to the subjects being covered.

The regulator deemed that contributions to the program “could reasonably be characterized as being from a pro-Palestinian viewpoint,” meaning that the program failed to maintain due impartiality.


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