Press TV held in breach by OFCOM


By Stephen Pollard
August 3, 2009
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Press TV has just been held by OFCOM to be in breach of the required impartiality standard. The judgment is here:

Under the Communications Act 2003, and therefore the Code, due impartiality must be preserved by broadcasters in all major matters of political or industrial policy. In dealing with these major matters broadcasters must include an appropriately wide range of significant views.

...The Israeli-Palestinian conflict understandably raises extremely strong views and emotions from all sides. It is right that broadcasters are able to reflect such opinions within its programmes. There must be a place for such programming which gives air to highly opinionated and vocal reaction on issues of such importance. However, in order to comply with the Code, broadcasters must ensure that, when discussing matters of major political or industrial controversy or a major matter relating to current public policy, a real range of significant views are included in a programme. Further, in such cases, when presenting any significant alternative view, it must be given due weight and consideration.

Here's the rub. Press TV is a vile channel which should be held in contempt. But I believe in free speech. I believe that it should have every right to broadcast its lies and Iranian propaganda. No one in the UK has to hand over money to Press TV to fund its
programmes.

But the whole notion of impartiality is risible when it
comes to broadcast news. Press TV's bias is, almost, open. But the BBC
is also biased. We all have to hand over money to the BBC, however, on pain
of a criminal conviction. That's the big difference that makes the BBC far more pernicious.

So when it comes to bias, I'll defend Press TV's right to broadcast its nonsense, and for our right to chastise it. What I won't defend is the BBC's right - or even its existence. 

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