Lesson number one for journalists: talking about Israeli “massacres” will always be “biased” even if Israel commits “massacres”:
Ofcom has ruled that a current affairs TV show discussing the ill-fated Gaza flotilla, which was presented by Cherie Blair’s sister Lauren Booth, has broken broadcasting code rules on impartiality.
Booth presents a regular programme on Press TV, the news network controlled by the Iranian government that has a bureau in west London, called Remember Palestine.
On 5 June Booth presented an edition that discussed the events during and following the interception by Israeli military forces of a pro-Palestinian aid convoy in the Mediterranean on 31 May, which resulted in nine deaths.
The show, which started with a pro-Palestinian song and anti-Israeli imagery, featured a range of pre-recorded and live interviews that included comments such as “massacre” and “barbarous attack”, according to Ofcom.
Ofcom 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”.
The media regulator received a complaint that the show failed to air alternative views.
Press TV maintained that it had complied with the due impartiality requirements of the broadcasting code. The broadcaster said that the “intensity of the descriptions in the programme merely reflected the general atmosphere around the world”.
The media regulator said that while the programme included a number of viewpoints all of them were portrayed as critical of the Israeli state’s policies.
“In summary the programme accused the Israeli government of a massacre and of breaking international law and human rights,” said Ofcom. “We considered the broadcaster did not provide sufficient evidence of alternative views within the programme. Overall the programme gave a one-sided view on this matter of political controversy.”