When Britain’s media regulatory authority OFCOM suspended and later revoked the licence of a local radio station in the UK last month, the BBC News website provided audiences with an accurate and comprehensive explanation of the reasoning behind that decision in two articles titled “Sheffield-based radio station Iman FM suspended over ‘terror talks’” and “Sheffield-based radio station Iman FM loses licence“.
“A community radio station has had its licence revoked for broadcasting more than 25 hours of lectures by an alleged al-Qaeda leader.
Sheffield-based Iman FM’s licence had already been suspended by Ofcom for playing the lectures by radical American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. […]
“We have strict rules prohibiting harmful content in programmes likely to incite crime,” the Ofcom spokesperson added. […]
It followed “extremely serious breaches of the Broadcasting Code, after it aired material likely to incite or encourage the commission of crime or to lead to disorder”, said Ofcom. […]
In 2011 the United Nations Security Council described Awlaki as a “leader, recruiter and trainer for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”.
His sermons are thought to have inspired terrorist attacks including the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in 2015 in which 12 people died and the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, in which 13 US soldiers were killed.”
That standard of clear and informative reporting was not however in evidence on August 6th when the BBC News website published a report now titled “Al Jazeera: Israel seeks to shut offices and take network off air“. [emphasis added]
“Israel is seeking to close Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera’s offices in the country and revoke its journalists’ media credentials.
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara alleged that the channel supported terrorism, and said both its Arabic and English-language channels would be taken off air.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the broadcaster of “incitement”. […]
Mr Netanyahu had accused the pan-Arab TV channel of fuelling a recent crisis around a holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. […]
The Israeli prime minister vowed in late July to “expel Al Jazeera” for its reporting of the issue, which he said had incited violence. […]
Israel has however frequently accused it [Al Jazeera] of being biased in reporting the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”
The BBC’s report refrained from providing its audiences with any examples of the kind of Al Jazeera material that has prompted such ‘allegations’ and ‘accusations’ past and present.
Readers were not informed, for example, that two days after the terror attack that sparked the recent violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere, Al Jazeera aired an interview with the deputy head of the banned northern Islamic Movement in which – as documented by MEMRI – he was given an unchallenged platform to promote pernicious incitement.
“Kamal Khatib: 22 years ago, we said that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was in danger. At the time, we said that throughout the excavations, the occupation used chemical substances that have a long-term effect. These substances could eat away at the rocks and pillars, but its effect would not show immediately, and afterwards they would be able to claim that the cracks in Al-Aqsa [walls]… It has happened. There are fissures and sinkholes in some places. [Their plan was that] they would be able to claim that it was the working of nature. It seems… Actually, I shouldn’t say “seems”…
Interviewer: Sorry to interrupt you, Sheikh, but did [Israel] do it now, when the mosque was closed? Did it execute this secret scheme?
Kamal Khatib: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I fear – I am almost convinced – that the goal of Israel in closing the mosque was not just to search for weapons, as the [Israelis] claimed. They know that there are no weapons inside the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Neither were readers told, for example, that in 2008 Al Jazeera threw a birthday party for the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar (for which it later apologised) or that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Yusuf al Qaradawi has a regular Al Jazeera slot from which he has been inciting against Jews – and others – for years.
While failing to provide readers with any such examples, the BBC’s article does however report various Al Jazeera statements on the story, even amplifying the unquestioned claim that the network is “independent” despite the fact that it does not report on the autocratic regime that is the source of its funding.
“Al Jazeera has condemned the decision. […]
An Al Jazeera official in the Qatari capital Doha told AFP that the channel “deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East, and considers what it has done is dangerous”. […]
The Al Jazeera official defended its coverage, saying it was “professional and objective”.
The network’s editor in Jerusalem has accused Mr Netanyahu of collusion with his autocratic Arab neighbours in an attack on free and independent media.”
Obviously in order to understand this story properly, BBC audiences needed to be provided with information concerning the kind of material broadcast by Al Jazeera that has sparked the objections – just as they were in the case of the Sheffield radio station. The BBC News website failed to provide that essential background information but did other BBC platforms do any better? That question will be answered in part two of this post.
Al Jazeera English (CAMERA)
Al-Jazeera America (CAMERA)
Looking back at the sourcing behind BBC reports on Qatar – part two