Saturday, August 23, 2008
To absolutely nobody's amazement Ofcom have decided that no such duty applies when doing "news" that supports the government line. Here is the relevant part of their reply with my comments:
"The requirement for due impartiality in news is important but this does not automatically mean that equal representation of views will be required in every report. There is scope under the Code to take a number of factors into consideration, including the nature of the story; the level of broad consensus; the degree to which it relates directly to the UK; and the appropriate judgement of a journalist on the ground "Broad consensus" is clearly code for whatever the government wants without the intrusion of facts, "degree to which it relates to the UK" clearly translates as "you can lie as much as you want about foreigners but be a bit more careful about local stories where the people know enough to see what porkies you are telling".
In the cases you highlighted, Channel 4 News' coverage of the meeting between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai mediated by Thabo Mbeki included clips from both the Zanu-PF and MDV leaders. There were also interviews with Brilliant Mlanga, Zinmbabwean Political Analyst, and Knox Chitiyo, from the Royal United Services Institute. These contributors spoke about the political implications of the meeting and the possibility of co-operation between Zanu-PF and MDC rather than the violence in the country. The item did show civilian injuries and a case of rape purported to be carried out by Zanu-PF supporters, however a correspondent is able to make valid observations if supported by evidence. My point had been that all 3 of those interviewed had been on the same side which clearly provided Mugabe's supporters no "timely & appropriate opportunity to respond" or even an untimely one - the "judgement" on this does not even attempt to answer the complaint & clearly cannot.
Turning to the clip of Paddy Ashdown used in the Classic FM headline news, given that Radovan Karadzic had been recently captured and was considered one of the world's most wanted men, Ofcom believes it was justifiable to interview the former EU High Representative for Bosnia & Hercegovina. Since Karadzic's capture there has been news coverage of the support he has received in Bosnia. However it is not a breach to interview one contributor who felt Karadzic's arrest was "good news" for the Balkans. Of course I never suggested Ashdown should not have been interviewed. My complaint was that "No attempt at balance" by interviewing anybody from the other side" had been made, either in that or in any other item - clearly that is neither disputed nor disputable nor is it possible to say that this is consistent with the duty to allow a "timely & appropriate" reponse>. In effect Ofcom have, merely repeated the events & then officially said that they will take no notice whatsoever of their own rules - that such rules are merely window dressing. Consequently this is an admission that they are a fascist (& in this instance racist) body that exists purely to enforce government ("consensus") propaganda irrespective of facts. It is, of course, in this particular case, even technically impossible to deny that both sides exist because, by definition, the possibility of someone being innocent before they are brought to "trial" has to be an option (even if in a non-technical sense nobody thinks the court sufficiently honest for release to be a possibility).
On the ITV News report we are aware of the libel case which ITN brought against LM Magazine after it made claims ITN had faked news footage at the Trnopolje camp. However ITN won this libel case against the accusations made & we are satisfied there is no case to argue about the rebroadcast of footage in Penny Marshall's being inaccurate as the jury found that ITN had not misrepresented the truth of what occurred at Tronopolje. This is a deliberate lie. The jury did not & indeed could not find that that the film did not misrepresent the truth, because the judge had already instructed them that ITN's journalists had "contradicted themselves" under oath & that LM's allegations as to facts were "essentially true" but that "this doesn't matter" unless LM could prove that the fabrication was not accidental. Ofcom, being "aware" of this, know perfectly well that the question of whether ITN faked it accidentally or deliberately is immaterial to the fact that it was faked & that they have thus deliberately approved of showing a film they & ITN undeniably now know to be a fake.
Presumably in future before believing anything on ITN News we will have to have evidence that Ofcom have already judged against it.
On the other hand still better than the BBC who don't even acknowledge complaints. Presumably they know from the outset that trying to claim to be in some way honest would just show up how much they aren't.