British law firm Carter-Ruck has filed a formal complaint with the British broadcasting regulator (Ofcom) against Al-Arabiya News Channel and Sky News Arabia for broadcasting baseless statements falsely attributed to His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani following the hack of Qatar News Agency (QNA) website on May 24.
Since Al-Arabiya Channel and Sky News Arabia (which is part of the UK Sky plc) are Ofcom-regulated, QNA has assigned Carter-Ruck to file a complaint with Ofcom to draw the attention to the two channels’ breach of its Broadcasting Code, including those sections requiring due impartiality and due accuracy in broadcasting the news, which were violated by the two channels. The hack of QNA website caused the publication of a number of fabricated statements attributed to His Highness the Emir of Qatar that were falsely reported to global audience by the two channels.
The two channels did not comply with the Broadcasting Code of Ofcom, including those items that require impartiality and accuracy in the news, especially in light of the fact that Qatar News Agency did not broadcast these misrepresented statements on the (FTP) system adopted in the exchange of news between Arab and international news agencies.
The Qatar Government Communication Office (GCO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs swiftly issued press statements addressing the hack on QNA, clarifying the true position towards the fabricated statements. The GCO also took the precaution of contacting broadcasters directly so as to ensure that matters were entirely clear. The majority of the world’s media, such as Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP), responded accordingly, informing the public of the hack and correcting any misleading impression that had been conveyed by earlier reports. However, notwithstanding the general response, Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia continued to report the falsely attributed statement with great prominence, while failing to respond to the GCO’s attempts to contact them.
The (FTP) system is the system approved by news exchange agreements between Arab and international news agencies as the sole source for receiving and transmitting news, not the websites of these agencies.
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