Media Workers Against the War


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New Westminster watchdog launched to monitor media bias against Iran

A new media monitoring body was launched on Firday aimed exclusively at highlighting and challenging distorted or misleading reporting on Iran. Launched in the House of Commons the group, part of the Westminster Committee on Iran, will monitor the news media and use a system of “rapid rebuttalᾠ to confront political bias where ever it occurs. The Westminster Committee on Iran, who oppose military intervention against Iran, will bring cases to the appropriate regulating authorities and demand that strong measures be taken against broadcasters, journalists and editors found to have breached regulatory codes of practice.

The Westminster Committee on Iran revealed that it already has a case-load of more than sixty instances of media misrepresentation which it has drafted into complaints and which will be investigated by the Press Complaints Commission, Ofcom and the BBC’s own internal complaints structures.

The complaints range from reports in local news papers to stories on the BBC national news. Indeed further to a complaint by the Westminster Committee about a recent BBC TV news broadcast, the BBC complaints department have launched an investigation into political bias. On Sunday 25th February 2007, news anchor Emily Maitlas described President Amadinejads “no breaksᾠ statement of his determination to continue with a civilian nuclear enrichment programme as his “latest defiance of the Westᾠ and “just the latest example of Iran ratcheting up the tensionᾠ. Whilst Maitlas was talking, the report showed archive images of missiles being shot into the sky.

Another complaint being investigated by the Press Complaints Commission focuses on a series of articles by Daily Telegraph journalist, Con Coughlin. On 24 January 2007, relying on an unnamed “European defence officialᾠ Coughlin alleging that North Korea is helping Iran prepare a nuclear weapons test. In December 2006, the Telegraph ran a headline article by Coughlin, also based on unnamed intelligence sources, that claimed that Iran was “grooming Bin Laden’s successorᾠ. The fact that Coughlin was the journalist who discovered “the factᾠ that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes and unearthed “the linkᾠ between the 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Ata and the Iraqi intelligence, gave the Westminster Committee particular cause for concern.

With the expiry of the UN’s resolution 1737 the Westminister Committee on Iran believe that, as in 2003, President Bush is planning to order a strike on Iran ‘in support of the authority of the UN’. By monitioring and challenging unbalanced reporting, the Committee hope to ensure that the media are not used to spin this nation into supporting or participating another illigitimate and unjustified military action.

The launch of the Westminster Committee on Iran’s Media Monitoring Group took place at 10.30am 9th March in the Jubilee Rooms, Palace of Westminster, SW1.

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