Menu:

Latest news:

Updated Weekly
Please check back here for new articles!

 

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Where is Israel's satellite TV news channel?

Where is Israel's satellite TV news channel?
By GAVIN GROSS
The email invitation from "Iran's Press TV" screamed out its subject
line as it dropped into the Zionist Federation's inbox: "Very Urgent
Media Request."
Would I agree to participate in a one-hour televised debate entitled
"How Will the Map of Palestine Be Determined?" After conferring with two
London-based Israeli academics who had previously appeared on the
channel, I accepted.
"Press TV" is an Iranian government-backed, 24-hour English language
satellite TV news channel headquartered in Teheran. Launched globally
nine months ago, it now airs on 10 different satellite systems and is
endeavouring to be added to Britain's Sky satellite package. The channel
can also be watched "live" online from anywhere in the world. According
to its Web site, regular programs include "Iran," covering life in the
Islamic Republic; "Middle East Today," focusing on news from the region;
"American Dream," billed as a "warts-and-all picture of life in the
USA"; and "Minbar," a weekly Q&A on Islam "fielding questions about all
aspects of the world's fastest growing religion."
Press TV claims that over 70% of the Web site's hits are from the United
States, and the station has just hired Andrew Gilligan, an influential
British journalist, former BBC correspondent and columnist for London's
Evening Standard newspaper.
PRESS TV is only one part of Iran's effort to spread its message and
authority around the world. According to a recent report on Al Jazeera
English, Iran has become a growing presence in the global media market
and is a major television producer with broadcasts in 27 different
languages such as Arabic, Urdu, and Armenian. Iran's Al Alam Arabic
language TV channel has a 60% market share in Iraq, and Hizbullah's Al
Manar Television is largely funded though not operated by Iran.
The Islamic Republic will soon begin broadcasting in Spanish to Spain
and across Latin America. By aggressively launching multiple media
outlets Iran has, according to a media analyst, "taken a preemptive
media strike" to convey its message.
In London, a Press TV taxi brought me to their impressive studios,
housed in a modern office building in west London. I was politely
ushered into a waiting lounge while producers and guests raced around
between four different sets. All of the women had their heads covered. I
was soon taken into the make-up room where an attendant prepared me for
the cameras. A fellow guest, a Western woman judged to be showing too
much flesh around her neck, was given a scarf to wear on air.
My three fellow panelists were an official from an Arab party in Israel
which has three Knesset seats and believes in the "right of return" for
Palestinian refugees; a Palestinian academic based in England; and the
director of an international peace group. The host of the program was
Yvonne Ridley, an English journalist who has been active in hard-Left
and Islamist politics in Britain as a member of George Galloway's
Respect party, and who once famously called Respect a "Zionist-free party."
It was only when I was being fitted with a microphone in the studio that
I discovered the true title of the debate was actually, "Is the Zionist
State Trying to Wipe Palestine off the Map?" Although I was treated
fairly and given sufficient time to make my arguments, and the entire
program was later broadcast unedited, the whole structure of the program
from the crude title to the pre-recorded segments were designed to frame
the discussion precisely according to the channel's viewpoint. For
example, an inflammatory pre-recorded clip showed Muslims praying on the
Temple Mount while a voice-over claimed that the foundations of the
Al-Aksa mosque were being "deliberately destabilized" by Israel, which
was trying to "ethnically cleanse" Palestinians from the holy city.
ALONGSIDE THE threats posed by Iran's nuclear program and support for
terrorist organizations, the growth of Iran's broadcasting capabilities,
and perhaps also that of Al Jazeera, is worrying for Israel. My personal
experience on Press TV and work with the Zionist Federation in combating
unbalanced British media coverage of Israel leads me to ask: Where is
Israel's international satellite TV station?
At home my Sky satellite package features not only 24-hour Sky News, BBC
News 24, CNN and Fox News, but also European English language news (Euro
News), Indian English language news (NDTV), Russian English language
news (Russia Today), French English language news (France 24), Chinese
English language news (CCTV-9), and Al Jazeera's English service.
Recently, Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz attacked Israel's
"criminal strategic insistence" on refusing to invest the necessary
resources in competent public diplomacy. With today's brave new world
characterized by around-the-clock global media outlets and high-speed
Internet access in even less developed countries, how can it be that
Israel doesn't have an English language or Arabic language news channel,
and is in fact cutting back on its foreign language radio transmissions?
Battles are now fought not only in the military field but in the arena
of public opinion. With all the ingenuity and resources available within
Israel and the Jewish world, and expertise in hi-tech and
communications, isn't it possible to fund and produce a credible,
serious TV channel presenting an Israeli viewpoint? Without it, we will
remain preoccupied with scrounging around for fair coverage on other
people's media outlets, and Israel's global image will deteriorate
further, with negative consequences for the country's future security
and prosperity.
The writer is director of public affairs for Britain's Zionist
Federation, which was founded in London in 1899 to support the Jewish
national movement.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home