Ofcom raps Press TV

Ofcom, the broadcasting standards body, has ruled that Iranian-backed Press TV’s coverage of the Gaza flotilla incident breached guidelines on impartiality.

The regulator said the station had not shown due impartiality during a broadcast on June 5 which dealt exclusively with the events surrounding the interception by Israeli commandos of the pro-Palestinian convoy off the coast of Gaza.

During an episode of current affairs show Remembering Palestine, presenter Lauren Booth discussed the flotilla with studio guests and participants of the convoy.

Ofcom said the show had started with “a pro-Palestinian song set to anti-Israeli/pro-Palestinian imagery”.

The watchdog said comments made by Ms Booth and her guests “could be interpreted as being highly critical of the actions of the Israeli government and its military forces”.

The comments included:

- Lauren Booth saying: “Israeli commandos…committed a massacre of innocent civilians sailing aid ships to the besieged Gaza Strip.”

- And: “This was obviously a barbarous attack on civilians. One thing is certain: As Turkey buries its murdered citizens…the brave men and women on those ships, in one move, have shifted world opinion against Israeli apartheid.”

- Press TV correspondent Yousef Al-Helou’s remark: “Israel’s piracy in the Mediterranean Sea ended with a massacre.”

Press TV had defended the comments and said further remarks had supported Israel’s action.

But Ofcom found the comments had been presented out of context in the station’s defence, and had been made in the show “not as the stated position of the Israeli government, but as part of questions put to guests…

“When seen in full context, it is apparent that these comments…gave the opportunity for the programme to criticise the Israeli government.”

Ofcom ruled that Press TV had breached rule 5.5.

Last updated: 1:51pm, August 2 2010