Gaza documentary rapped for breaking impartiality rules

Sherna Noah,Press Association
Monday 02 August 2010 16:08 BST

A current affairs programme presented by Lauren Booth, Cherie Blair's sister, has been rapped by the broadcasting watchdog for breaching impartiality rules.

Booth, 43, fronted a programme on Press TV, the Iranian international news network, about the events during and after the May interception by Israeli military forces of a pro-Palestinian aid convoy, which resulted in nine deaths.

The programme, broadcast in June, started with a pro-Palestinian song set to anti-Israeli/pro-Palestinian imagery.

Comments made by Booth, who is Cherie Blair's half-sister, included: "Israeli commandoes ... committed a massacre of innocent civilians sailing aid ships to the besieged Gaza Strip" and "this was obviously a barbarous attack on civilians".

The broadcaster said it had complied with impartiality requirements and that the "intensity of the descriptions in the programme merely reflected the general atmosphere around the world".

But Ofcom ruled that "the programme did not contain any alternative views".

It said: "Presenters or interviewers must ensure they are articulating alternative views in a duly objective manner or putting them to interviewees in a manner that achieves due impartiality."

It said: "In summary ... we considered the broadcaster did not provide sufficient evidence of alternative views within the programme.

"Overall the programme gave a one-sided view on this matter of political controversy.

"Furthermore and importantly, the broadcaster did not provide any evidence of alternative views on this issue in a series of programmes taken as a whole."

Press TV, which launched in Britain three years ago, is funded by the Tehran government and broadcasts to nearly 10 million UK subscribers, according to reports.

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