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Monday, 9 September, 2002, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
UK Muslims 'mistrust' TV news
A couple watch President Bush on TV
Some Muslims said Islam was portrayed negatively
Many Muslims in the UK are sceptical of television news bulletins following 11 September, according to research.

More than 70% said broadcasters were selective in what they showed - especially in the portrayal of Islam and the reporting of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

Osama Bin Laden on al-Jazeera TV
Al-Jazeera screened a number of interviews with Osama Bin Laden
Increased access to the internet and non-western news outlets like Qatari satellite channel al-Jazeera have made viewers question information given by mainstream outlets.

But there was no anti-Islam bias among broadcasters, according to the British Film Institute (BFI) and the Open University, who compiled the report.

"TV news is central to the public's understanding of political issues," Richard Paterson, the BFI's head of research, said.

"It is the only medium that brings world events into people's homes and traditionally this information has been accepted unquestioningly."

Viewers choose to watch the news bulletins that best represents their level of knowledge, interest and political viewpoint, he said.

BBC reporter in Afghanistan
The War on Terror posed many challenges for reporters
"We found that viewers watching the same news bulletin will interpret information differently depending on their existing knowledge and viewpoint.

"This may explain why some Muslim viewers believed that Islam was portrayed negatively by some TV news, but why this was not evident when we analysed the content."

The researchers analysed bulletins from 18 different TV stations, including BBC, ITN, Sky News, CNN, Al Jazeera and Asian station Zee News.

They also interviewed 320 viewers.

The results were published at the start of a conference to review coverage of 11 September and the ensuing conflict.

The conference will include a debate between representatives from the BBC, CNN and al-Jazeera, who will discuss the successes and failures of TV news reporting since 11 September.

Responding to the report, a spokeswoman for the BBC said: "Since 11 September we have been acutely aware of the sensitivities around the representation of Islam and Muslim views in our output and editors work hard to maintain fair and balanced coverage.

"BBC Two's Newsnight in particular has been praised in the report for its in-depth analysis."


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