Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 18:59 UK

Galloway TV shows 'broke rules'

George Galloway
Press TV said its contributions to the show reflected the balance of opinion

George Galloway's shows on an Iranian-funded TV channel broke broadcasting rules on impartiality, Ofcom has said.

Two shows hosted by the Respect MP during the Gaza conflict in January did not give enough weight to pro-Israeli views, the regulator ruled.

The "overwhelming majority" of content was pro-Palestinian and no phone calls reflected pro-Israeli opinion, it said.

Press TV argued it had met the broadcasting code by giving viewers of differing opinions a chance to respond.

Two editions of the shows - a weekly phone-in programme called Comment and a current affairs show The Real Deal - prompted some complaints to Ofcom.

Alternative views

Ofcom said Mr Galloway, who earlier this year was given a Palestinian passport from a Hamas leader in Gaza for his support for the Palestinian people, was entitled to express his opinions.

But it ruled that alternative viewpoints had to be aired on controversial issues. It said no telephone calls and only limited texts and e-mails were taken from people with pro-Israeli views.

Where a matter of major political controversy is being discussed, as here, the broadcaster must ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included
Ofcom ruling

"Taking the programmes as a whole, Ofcom noted that there were some but extremely limited contributions that could be labelled as being broadly supportive of the actions of the Israeli state in Gaza during January 2009.

"It should be noted that where a matter of major political controversy is being discussed, as here, the broadcaster must ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.

"This is especially important where a presenter is known to have strongly held views on the subject being discussed in the programme and clearly makes his position clear throughout the programme."

Balance of opinion

Press TV, an English language satellite station funded by the Iranian government, said it had complied with the broadcasting code by giving viewers the chance to respond.

It said its contributions to the show reflected the balance of opinion.

Ofcom rejected an argument that the presence of journalist Jeff Steinberg on The Real Deal gave an Israeli viewpoint - as he was appearing as a commentator rather than giving the Israeli position.



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