‘Freedom of speech, battle ground’
Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:33AM
You know, you don’t create peace by suppressing viewpoints. And understand something, this is not just about Iranian viewpoints. Press TV is a channel that has voices like myself from all over the world.”European satellite provider Eutelsat SA has stopped the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels on the order of the European Commission. Many viewers all over the world have censured the move, which is seen as a clear violation of press freedom. Banning Iranian news channels, including Press TV, shows a concern on the side of the European Union and the European Commission on alternate news being broadcasted. Press TV has conducted an interview with Danny Schechter, editor of mediachannel.org, from New York, to further discuss the issue. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview. Press TV: We are now in this blame game, essentially with Eutelsat blaming the EU previously and now the EU saying no, this was Eutelsat’s unilateral decision. Has this decision in a sense backfired especially now that everyone is speaking about these double standards of freedom of speech? Schechter: Well, there is an old saying, “What a web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” And that’s what’s happening here -- deception. With nobody wanting to take responsibility, no one wanting to be accountable for a decision that clearly flies in the face of the United Nations declaration of human rights, and it flies in the face of the status that the EU wanted to be respected for as the winner of the peace prize. You know, you don’t create peace by suppressing viewpoints. And understand something, this is not just about Iranian viewpoints. Press TV is a channel that has voices like myself from all over the world. We are the ones who are being suppressed here in the name of some kind of principle that nobody wants to articulate.
It is part of the sanctions regime. It is a real violation of human rights on every level. And it really has to be challenged as it is being challenged by people around the world, and there has been a cowardly response in Europe to this by various bureaucrats who are scurrying to avoid responsibility pointing their fingers at others.Let’s have some truth here. Let’s have some honesty and let’s restore these channels to the air. Press TV: Mr. Schechter how do you see freedom of speech in the European Union, not just the European Union, in fact, in the Western world as a whole? Schechter: Well, you know, the freedom of speech is a battle ground. It’s a battle ground in our country as well as in other countries, because viewpoints that are not popular, that are critical, that are dissenting, have a much harder job of getting on the air and getting heard and getting seen. I worked in a network television in America and I know that a lot of the news was slanted and was marching in lockstep with what our government said. This is not a new problem. It is a continuing problem. And so voices are screened out. Yesterday a Green Party candidate for president was arrested outside the debate with President Obama and Mitt Romney challenging the fact that only two parties were allowed to participate. These issues go much deeper than just this ban. But this ban just shows what it could lead to. You know, if they ban Press TV today, why not ban BBC tomorrow? Why not ban Al Jazeera? Why not ban other channels that are raising questions that people in power don’t want to have raised? That is why the implications of this are very universal and very insidious. And we have to speak out against it as journalists no matter what country we are in. Press TV: Mr. Schechter, I wanted to ask you about the masses, the public and the populations in these various countries that may be suppressing freedom of speech and freedom of expression such as the EU has done currently. Do you believe that the masses are awake enough to know what is going on? Schechter: Well, I don’t speak in terms of the masses but the audiences are conditioned by what they see not by what they don’t see. So, their view of the world is being shaped subtly by choices that they don’t make. They don’t know that there are critical voices that could actually show that what they are being shown is not true or selective and what have you. This is the problem when you have monopoly media, media concentration control in a few hands. So people don’t really get the full picture and voices of people no matter how distinguished they may be if they are challenging the dominant view. Don’t get seen, don’t get heard. I mean I directed a film about the war in Iraq called Weapons of Mass Deception, and I showed how the American media was actually promoting the war, not reporting on it. And this is the danger that we have here. That’s why press freedom is very important if we want to have a country where people can think for themselves. They can’t if all media is controlled. MAY/HSN