Letters: Kosovo coverage

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The radically differing accounts given by Nato of the bombing of Albanian refugees on Wednesday raises more general concerns about the way events in Yugoslavia are being covered in the media.

We were appalled by the lack of critical coverage of Nato's announcement on 8 April that it would treat Yugoslav television and radio transmitters as "legitimate targets" for bombing unless they broadcast Western reports on the war for up to six hours a day. We note that while Nato indicates that it has partially retracted this threat, some transmitters have been bombed.

The idea that Nato should silence television and radio because it dislikes their coverage of the war violates the most basic principles of freedom of speech. If any foreign state used such crude threats to try to control the content of our own media, people in this country would be justifiably outraged.

In conditions of war, the public has the right to expect objectivity and independence from the media. Regrettably Nato seems to desire the precise opposite.

In recent weeks we have been deeply disturbed by the pressure on the media to toe the Nato line and the repetition as fact of Nato press briefings which have frequently turned out to be incorrect. The significant opposition to Nato bombing registered in opinion polls is not proportionately reflected in media coverage of the war.

BARRY WHITE

Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom

JOHN FOSTER

General Secretary

National Union of Journalists

JOHN PILGER

TIM GOPSILL

Press officer, NUJ

BERNIE CORBETT

NUJ

GERMAINE GREER

JEREMY HARDY

JEREMY DEAR

National organiser, NUJ

Committee for Peace in the Balkans

London SW1

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