Feature Article

Outfits serving Sri Lanka target international media investigation: Channel 4

[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 October 2011, 16:30 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields broadcast by Channel 4 had to face an organized campaign against it originating from the Sri Lankan ministry of defence, said British Channel 4 head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne testifying before the Communications Committee of the House of Lords of the British Parliament Tuesday. Citing the example, she warned the committee on the plight of international media’s investigative journalism facing increasingly sophisticated and orchestrated campaigns by hired PR companies and lobbying groups. Inappropriate Sri Lanka connections of the British defence secretary Dr. Liam Fox made him to resign this month. One of his connections was with Bell Pottinger, a PR company hired by Sri Lanka until recently.

Speaking to the Lords communications committee on the impact of PR companies on television current affairs, Ms. Byrne said that this was something "not just us but the whole of society needs to be aware of," The Guardian reported Wednesday.

The Lords committee was holding an inquiry into the future of investigative journalism.

Commenting, Tamil diaspora activists in London said that what was known on the international operations of Sri Lanka’s State terrorism is only a tip of the iceberg.

“We have friends,” Mahinda Rajapaksa said when the UN panel report on Sri Lanka’s war crimes advocated international investigations.

What is the ultimate source of funds and strength for Sri Lanka to unashamedly uphold genocide as a justifiable international paradigm to answer a national question and unabatedly continue structural genocide after the war, has to be investigated and brought to light by international media seeking justice to human civilisation, the diaspora activists said.

On the question of Eezham Tamils, the international media for long failed to differentiate and justify the spontaneous voice of the people long suffering State genocide from the deceptive campaign orchestrated by not only Genocidal Sri Lanka but also by a group of over 30 abetting Establishments.

The international media now needs a focussed political and ideological orientation to compensate and to eliminate the Frankenstein Monster, the diaspora activists further said.

* * *

An interesting but dangerous reality revealed through the testimonies of Channel 4’s Byrne and Panorama’s John Ware to the Lords committee was that countering the malicious and orchestrated campaigns were costlier to investigative journalism than researching on truth or even choosing not to tell the truth.

According to John Ware, the cost of dealing with a concerted campaign of complaints about a recent edition of BBC1's Panorama was more than it cost to make the programme itself.

"A recent Panorama was cleared in almost every respect save for some minor matters. I'm pretty sure the bill for that was significantly more than the actual transmission itself," he said, adding:

"That's fine – it's a public service broadcaster – but what I'm saying is there aren't the funds, the resources, to deal with the aftercare and the aftercare is getting greater because of the lobby groups."

"I hope we are still pretty rigorous in facing it off where it needs to be faced off. But there is an increasing amount of spin, PR, and people who are very clever at … stopping us putting material out," John ware revealed the realities.

Talking on the point, Byrne said: "If we are doing a really big investigation that could take six months to a year … We have to be ready that we could be living with an investigation for a year after it has gone out.”

"Stories have appeared, for example, about our Sri Lankan investigation all over the world in a highly organised way," she told the committee.

"They appear to be normal stories and they are not – they are obviously coming from somewhere. Demonstrations have taken place in the street – there was one outside Channel 4 – and this demonstration had been organised by the Sri Lankan ministry of defence," she further said.

BBC or any other international media were neither moved by genuine and spontaneous demonstrations of the affected people nor were put into ‘cost’ concerns when they were silent on the genocide while it was taking place.

But now, when they choose to reveal a little of the genocidal phenomenon in the island the cost of facing Establishment’s orchestrated opposition is higher than researching and telling the truth. This is the real danger journalism face today.


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