Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Press Release: Ofcom ruling on PressTV

Source: Press TV

In response to today's Ofcom ruling, Press TV has issued the following statement:

On 1st July 2009, Press TV's Tehran newsroom reported on an armed attack on a Basij base in the Iranian capital. The story included a ten-second clip of an interview conducted with Mr Maziar Bahari, in which he was quoted as saying, “On Monday, 15 June [2009], I sent a report about the attack against the base, a military base of Basij to Channel 4 News as well as to Newsweek Magazine.”

This interview was conducted in prison. Neither the Press TV journalist, nor the other reporters who were also conducting interviews, saw any signs of distress from Mr Bahari. The journalist explained the context of the interview to Mr Bahari and obtained his permission to ask questions. The reporter saw no indication that Mr Bahari had been mistreated. Press TV strongly rejects Mr Bahari's claims against it.

Press TV has never been in a position to respond to Mr Bahari's claims of what he experienced during his detention, either prior to or subsequent to his interview. Press TV played no role in these events, nor is it privy to information to either confirm or deny his allegations.

Mr Bahari's detention at the time was of a public nature, a fact that Mr Bahari himself has confirmed. However the circumstances surrounding the interview could have been made clearer to the audience.

The interview was aired on 1st July 2009. Mr Bahari did not file his complaint against Press TV until 21st December 2009, some 166 days after the broadcast. This was despite Ofcom's complaints procedure requiring all complaints “be submitted within 20 working days of the broadcast of the programme.”

Ofcom still accepted the complaint and Press TV fully assisted its investigation.

The delay was also beyond the 60 days that Ofcom requires broadcasters to retain recordings. For this reason Ofcom only had access to the footage that was broadcast; footage that Ofcom itself regarded as “so short that it was of little probative value,” rather than the unedited version which Press TV believes would have cleared its name. Instead Ofcom had to rely on Mr. Bahari's own take on events.

Press TV is concerned. On 31st March 2011, Maziar Bahari was seen sitting next to British Foreign Secretary William Hague addressing a “Human Rights Conference” in London, in which Iran was mentioned repeatedly. There is concern that a trend is emerging to politicise media matters related to Press TV.

In no part of Mr Hague's speech on “human rights” did he make references to the current human rights status within countries such as Bahrain where armed forces have been firing upon protesters.

Accurate reporting and journalism are extremely important to Press TV and its viewers. As a young news organisation, often facing hostility from the mainstream media, Press TV shall continue to strive to be the voice of the voiceless, covering stories from across the world.

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