Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TV news channels - from CNN to SABC News, ANN7 and eNCA - enact self-censorship; refuse to show viewers newsmaking Charlie Hebdo cover.

The new cover of France's satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo with a depiction of Muhammad is focusing attention on the self-censorship practised by international 24-hour TV news channels like CNN International (DStv 401) as well as local South African TV-news channels like eNCA (DStv 403), SABC News (DStv 404) and ANN7 (DStv 405) not showing viewers the news they're supposed to.

Other 24-hour TV news channels and TV news organisations are showing the new Charlie Hebdo cover.

The cover is extremely newsworthy and follows in the wake of the murder of 12 people during an attack on the publication's offices by Muslim extremists last week.

The new Charlie Hebdo cover of the new issue out from today shows a cartoon of Muhammad against a green background, shedding a tear and saying "I am Charlie", together with a headline, "'Tout est pardonné" (All is forgiven).

Three million copies of the publication has reportedly been printed - translated into 6 languages - with many places and newsstands already reporting that they've sold out.

It has become the most newsworthy image of 2015 so far - yet some broadcasters like CNN, the SABC and others refuse to show it to their viewers.

The debate on whether to show the newsworthy and cover image or not which is definitely in the public interest given the global news event, centers around the issue of freedom of speech and freedom of expression and news coverage, as well as religious sensitivities.

Some news organisations are scared and fear some form of religious reprisal if they show the image which is considered a sin to Muslims to depict.

CNN blatantly told viewers that "CNN will not show you the new cover, which depicts the prophet Muhammad, because it is our policy not to show potentially offensive images of the prophet".

The South African TV news channels eNCA (DStv 403) and ANN7 (DStv 405) have not (yet) responded to a media enquiry made yesterday and a request for comment regarding its stance on showing - or not showing - the latest Charlie Hebdo cover.

Just like enCA and ANN7 the SABC is covering the story but like them has so far also deliberately chosen not to show the Charlie Hebdo cover.

The SABC didn't want to explain its decision, thought-process and what guided its decision to not show the Charlie Hebdo cover.

SABC publicist Vuyo Mthembu tells TV with Thinus "please note that we are not obliged to divulge our broadcast plans on this matter or any other issue or story to you".

"The SABC maintains its editorial independence and is guided by its Editorial Policies and will not be influenced by external media or other stakeholders on what we should report and how," says Vuyo Mthembu.

In contrast Australia's public broadcaster ABC is showing Australian viewers the cover.

South African viewers can also see the Charlie Hebdo cover on FOX News (StarSat 261).

MSNBC (StarSat 263) and Al Jazeera English (DStv 406 / StarSat 257) are also practising self-censorship of the news story. Sky News (DStv 402) also chose not to show viewers the cover.

CBS News in America is showing the cover to TV viewers.

Publications like The Guardian, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal are also showing the Charlie Hebdo cover.

France's TV channels TF1 and Canal Plus are showing the Charlie Hebdo cover and Germany's ARD as well.

France's English language 24-hour TV news channel France24 (StarSat 259) is also showing the cover in several news stories and reports.

BBC World News (StarSat 256 / DStv 400) has shown the new Charlie Hebdo cover and other Charlie Hebdo cartoons in news stories as well as in programmes like NewsNight.

"The BBC is a news organisation committed both to free speech and respecting our audiences in the UK and around the world," says the BBC.

"We have made the editorial judgment that the images are central to reporting the story and will continue to report the story in a careful and considered manner".

With TV channels like France24 and FOX News showing the cover and only being available on StarSat, On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes SA's StarSat satellite pay-TV platform has been giving their viewers more uncensored and unrestricted news coverage in this case that what has so far been available through MultiChoice's DStv as far as the Charlie Hebdo news story is concerned.