UK news media: Pilger backlash
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Fri Sep 20 02:46:47 MDT 2002
Carlton chairman criticises its own documentary on Israel
By Paul Peachey
The Independent, 20 September 2002
The chairman of Carlton Television, Michael Green, has strongly criticised one of his company's documentaries on the Middle East made by the award-winning journalist John Pilger.
Mr Green said the programme, Palestine Is Still The Issue, was one-sided, totally unrealistic and a "tragedy for Israel so far as accuracy is concerned". He told the Jewish Chronicle that he had seen the programme before it was broadcast on Monday and was "extremely unhappy" with it. He said he was "focused" on getting the network to make a programme from the Israeli point of view.
"I fully accept that we are a public-service broadcaster and that it is the opinion of John Pilger," he told the newspaper. "That is the nature of our remit. We do present programmes that give differing points of view. It was factually incorrect, historically incorrect. Unfortunately, you can't always agree with him. He [Mr Pilger] has a huge reputation but consistently my views are very much opposed to his views."
Last night Mr Pilger told The Independent: "What this fuss is about is that a mainstream documentary has described accurately and fairly the great injustice done to the Palestinian people and it has done so by using both Palestinian and Israeli witnesses.
"To the pro-Israeli lobby, the broadcast of this basic truth is unacceptable."
The programme, which followed up a documentary on Palestine Mr Pilger made 25 years ago, has stirred strong passions and Carlton was inundated with complaints and praise in equal measure, according to a spokeswoman. About one million people watched the programme.
A spokesman from Carlton factual programmes, said the views expressed by Mr Green were his own and that he was in no way involved in the programme or its transmission.
He added: "John Pilger's programme and its accuracy went through normal procedures of editorial scrutiny prior to completion and senior executives both at Carlton and the ITV network approved its transmission. The film dealt with a sensitive subject and was bound to be controversial."
The Israeli embassy said it would be demanding ITV schedule a programme that "presents an objective and honest version of this complex and multifaceted conflict". The Board of Deputies of British Jews has also complained to the Independent Television Commission.
Carlton said it could not confirm another documentary would be made. Mr Green had no say on scheduling.
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