Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, during the discussion at a public meeting on the U.S. war drive against Syria. The meeting was held on June 30, 2012. (Photo: Leona McElvene), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
PANW Editor's Note: An indication of the power of the Pan-African News Wire was the recent citing of Russia Today for broadcasting July 12, 2012 interview with editor Abayomi Azikiwe on the current situation in Syria.
According to the British Office of Communications, the report was a breach of impartiality. This is laughable considering the total bias of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and other outlets in their coverage of Syria which are exclusively in support of the US-backed rebels terrorizing this Middle Eastern state.
Nonetheless, this illustrates the growing influence of Russia Today and other satellite stations such as Press TV. More people are turning away from CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and towards other sources.
Russia Today Syria report breached Ofcom rules
5 November, 2012 | By Balihar Khalsa
A Russia Today report on Syria has been found in breach of Ofcom’s impartiality rules.
The news channel, available on the Sky platform and funded by the Russian government, broadcast a report on the crisis in Syria on 12 July, which drew a complaint of bias.
It featured a pre-recorded video with pan-Africa newswire editor Abayomi Azikiwe who said: “The ‘backers’ of the Syrian opposition have opposed any effort aimed at dialogue to bring about a political solution to this crisis. They have refused to acknowledge any type of ceasefire.
“They have continued their aggressive activities against the Syrian government, and as a result of that the Syrian government has had no choice except to engage in these military manoeuvres that we’ve seen over the last couple of days.
“The onus for the resolution of this crisis strictly lies with the armed opposition and also the opposition which is around the Syrian National Council as well as the other Islamist groups, which have refused all peace plans that have been put forward by the United Nations Envoy, Kofi Annan.”
It was followed with Syrian actors expressing concern over the boycott of funding for Syrian TV industry by some Arab countries.
Russia Today’s UK licence holder TV Novosti defended the report, arguing that the broadcaster is independent, even though it is funded by the Russian government.
On the points made by Azikiwe it argued that there was no need to challenge them as the full live interview with him had been broadcast the previous day, in which the news presenter had highlighted views of the Syrian opposition.
It also argued that due impartiality can not always be given to war stories in the same way as domestic stories, and that a rolling news channel can’t always refer back to previous items, to provide the necessary context.
Despite the arguments Ofcom found the channel in breach of rule 5.1: “News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.”
The broadcast regulator said: “We considered that the overall effect of the Syrian actors’ statements critical of certain Arab states opposing the Syrian Government, was to build on Abayomi Azikiwe’s statements made ten minutes earlier, criticising the Syrian opposition
and supporting the Syrian Government.
“Further, we considered that there were not sufficient alternative viewpoints provided either in the news programme itself broadcast on 12 July 2012, nor any editorially linked material in the news bulletin identified by the Licensee broadcast on 11 July 2012, to ensure that this news item was presented with due impartiality in this case.”