Ofcom Censures Lauren Booth, Press TV Flotilla Special

Ofcom, the UK's media standards authority, censured Press TV and Lauren Booth's coverage of the Mavi Marmara.

A special broadcast on the June 5 edition of "Remember Palestine," Ofcom found that Press TV failed to show due impartiality. See Ofcom's findings (pdf, starting on page 25). Key points included:

  • The programme started with a pro-Palestinian song set to anti-Israeli/pro-Palestinian imagery.
  • The programme included a range of statements, including the following, made by the presenter or people she interviewed, which could be interpreted as being highly critical of the actions of the Israeli government and its military forces in this case.
  • Lauren Booth: “Israeli commandoes . . . committed a massacre of innocent civilians sailing aid ships to the besieged Gaza strip.”
  • Yousef Al-Helou (Press TV correspondent): “Israel?s piracy in the Mediterranean Sea ended with a massacre”.
  • Lauren Booth: “This was obviously a barbarous attack on civilians."
  • . . . Ofcom must balance the right to freedom of expression on one hand, with the need, in cases such as these, to preserve “due impartiality” . . .

The show featured reports from two Press TV reporters in Gaza, interviews with representatives of Viva Palestina and the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights; the International Solidarity Movement, Hamas, IHH, plus a relative of one of people aboard the flotilla, which Ofcom pointed out were all pro-Palestinian viewpoints.

We considered that the programme did not contain any alternative views, which could be reasonably and adequately classed as supportive of, or which sought to explain, the actions of the Israeli military forces in relation to the aid convoy, or of the Israeli state more generally.

Booth won our 2008 Dishonest Reporter Award for sailing to Gaza, not to report any stories, but to be the story. The Press TV show in question's on YouTube.

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