Wednesday May 09, 201205:06 PM GMT
OfCom, UK Office of Miscommunication
Mon Jul 4, 2011 5:51PM
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OfCom is to stipulate its final verdict regarding a complaint against Iran's English-language news channel for airing a 10-second clip meant to prove the baseless nature of a claim made by Western media.


On July 1, 2009, Press TV reported on an armed attack on a Basij base in the Iranian capital. The report included a 10-second clip of an interview conducted with Iranian-born Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari while he was in prison.

Bahari said in the interview that “on Monday, June 15, [2009], I sent a report about the attack against the base, a military base of Basij to Channel 4 News.”

Major state-sponsored British media outlets such as the British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC) and Channel 4 had aired the manipulated footage that showed what appeared to be an incident of unrest near Tehran's Azadi Square, during which a number of Basij forces were shown shooting at what was claimed by the British media to be 'peaceful protesters,' although it was evidently not clear who and what the targets were.

Press TV later aired a more detailed version of the same report that clearly showed images of rioters attacking a Basij military base with stones and petrol bombs, while the guards were making great efforts to defuse the situation and prevent assailants from accessing the base's arms cache.

The extended video clearly showed that the earlier reporting of the state-run BBC and Channel 4 had been biased and distorted as they deliberately failed to show attacks by rioters on the military base which prompted the guards at the military base to react.

Bahari was released on bail on October 20, 2009 and fled the country. He later claimed that Press TV conducted and filmed the interview in prison without his consent and that his participation in the interview was under duress. He later launched a complaint against the Iranian broadcaster.

Mr. Bahari did not file his complaint until December 21, 2009, some 166 days after the broadcast. This was in violation of Ofcom's complaints procedure requiring all complaints “be submitted within 20 working days of the broadcast of the programme.”

Ofcom accepted the complaint and ruled that the airing of the clip by the Iranian broadcaster, saying that it was an invasion of Bahari's privacy and that it breached the regulator's rules.

Press TV's initial response to Bahari's complaint was that “every single element in the news item, including the 10-second soundbite of Mr. Bahari wherein he confirms he sent footage of protesters attacking a security compound in Tehran, was factually accurate and true, and in no way harmful to him.”

Bahari's attorneys confirmed that his detention was of an "obvious and agreed public nature," and being covered by "the international media, who were obviously following the story with keen interest," thereby obviating any need to make mention of the detention in the news item.

As to whether Bahari was portrayed unfairly in the broadcast, OfCom reasoned that if the news item had mentioned that Bahari had made his statement while in detention, none of these potential misunderstandings about him would have happened.

"By failing to make clear that Mr. Bahari's interview was conducted in prison and under duress, viewers were denied knowledge of what Ofcom considered to be significant material facts, given their potential to affect the way in which viewers regarded the news report and the inferences which they drew from the report in relation to Mr. Bahari," OfCom stated.

However, if Mr. Bahari's own attorneys agreed that his detention was of a public nature and the subject of international media coverage, how could Press TV deny viewers the knowledge of this so-called “significant material fact?”

It appears that the British government's anti-Iran campaign stems from the Iranian channel's reporting on a number of issues in the UK such as the student protests over tuition hikes that were met with a brutal police crackdown as well as the march by hundreds of thousands of Britons against the government's public spending cuts.

Wikileaks documents have demonstrated how the British Foreign Office has told the US Embassy in London that it is “exploring ways to limit the operations of … Press TV.”

Press TV has also been singled out for its challenging and critical coverage of the British royal family and their flagrant disregard for the common British citizen amid the Europe-wide economic crisis.

OFCOM was formed under Britain's Communications Act of 2003 that brought five different British media regulators together.

A quick look at senior decision makers at OFCOM demonstrates that the regulator is mostly made up of former Channel 4 and BBC executives, some of whom are well-linked to and influenced by powerful pro-Israeli politicians.

Colette Bowe, the 63-year old OFCOM chairperson, is reportedly paid £200,000 a year to coordinate the body's different committees. Bowe enjoyed the exclusive support of Peter Mandelson, the main economic planner of the Labour party who is a Jewish politician with an obvious Zionist mindset.

Millie Banerjee, who was reappointed to the Board of OFCOM in October 2007 after serving for a five-year term, held a non-executive post in Channel 4 between 2000 and 2002.

Tim Gardam, who was appointed to the OFCOM board on January 1, 2008, is a broadcasting sector veteran with a 25-year career that began at the BBC.

Gardam is currently a member of Content Board and chair of OFCOM's Nations committee, a member of the DTT Allocation Committee and a member of the Nominations and Remuneration Committee.

Although OFCOM officially lacks the authority to examine the content and accuracy of state-funded BBC programs, the official British broadcaster is entitled to introduce candidates for positions at the regulatory body.

The rulers of Britain should apply their legendary gumption to the problem, a little less stiff upper lip, a more realistic grip on reality and gracefully accept the historical facts of life; Britannia no longer rules the waves.

With some 3.5 million UK children living in abject poverty, many Britons felt 'voiceless' and despicably unrepresented by every media outlet, which instead paid lip-service to the royals and their star-studded wedding entourage wallowing in the luxurious comfort of their uber-dollar soufflé's unmindful of the plight of the common man down proletariat street.

As for Press TV, however, it offered a voice to the non-represented, often unnoticed man in the street. Untethered by the British Broadcasting rules, regulations, codes and double-legalize.

The OFFice of MIScommUnicatiOn, seems to hold an impeccable record of unbiased adjudications, standards for broadcast content permissible. Unless it be of the machinations of the BBC. Upon the independent OFFCOM officials seeing the beeb on the letterhead, they agree to do as it wills in the decree.

Very fairly, most unrelated to the peerages, and sundry honors dished out like television licensees, has only ever had board members of BBC or Channel 4 backgrounds.

One standard, one office, one mis-communique… OFCOM.

MYA/HGH/MTM/MMN
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Press TV.
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