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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
TV curbs anti-Israel rhetoric
By Peter Feuilherade
Media analyst

BBC Monitoring has observed that the official Palestinian television channel has cut back substantially on anti-Israel rhetoric since the ceasefire declared by Palestinian militant groups on 29 June.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Information Ministry announced it had issued specific instructions to all media outlets in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure their compliance with a presidential decree banning "incitement".

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Palestinian and Israeli officials agreed to set up two committees "to reach an understanding of the concept and forms of incitement," according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

"Such programmes are now almost extinct. Instead of incitement and hate passages, the channel broadcasts quiet songs as well as songs in praise of [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat," says Israel Radio's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestine TV had toned down its programming during several previous ceasefires, but this time, it has also aired a new music video aimed at showing Palestinian aspirations for peace with the Israelis.

Peace video

Media analysts with experience of Palestine TV's output say that while the channel continues to broadcast some music videos containing what some would class as inflammatory material, the effort to tone down its broadcasts - and to be seen to be doing so - is evident.

For instance, a phone-in talk show presenter cut off several callers last week after they attempted to express support for suicide attacks or call for the return of lands the Palestinians say were confiscated after Israel became an independent state in 1948.

Palestine TV subsequently broadcast a talk show on incitement which included an unprecedented music video dedicated to Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The footage gave prominence to scenes of doves, flowers being scattered and Christian, Muslim and Jewish children and adults joining in dance sequences.


In an indication that Palestinian officials are attempting to tighten state control over private media, the Information Ministry set a one month deadline on 2 July for media organisations to obtain licences to continue operating.

Citing a 1995 law, the Palestinian director-general of Printing and Publications Hani al-Masri said a licence for broadcasters, the press and polling organisations was vital in order to "prevent anarchy and lack of discipline".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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