CORRUPTED JOURNALISM: CHANNEL 4 AND SRI LANKA
Posted on November 14th, 2013

Sri Lanka Media Watch

Engage Sri Lanka has published Corrupted Journalism: Channel 4 and Sri Lanka. It is a 222-page study of the allegations made by British television broadcaster Channel 4 against the Government of Sri Lanka regarding events in the last few weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war, fought between the government and “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam” (LTTE, also known as the “Tamil Tigers”) rebels. In the course of two hour-long programmes, presented by Jon Snow, Channel 4 alleged that war crimes and human rights abuses had been committed by the government as the war ended in 2009.

‚ The well-known British journalist, A A Gill, noted of the claims made by Channel 4:

‚ “The channel has accumulated a large collection of samizdat amateur footage from mobile phones and video cameras -” mostly unattributed and uncorroborated . . . Snow-â„¢s commentary was intemperate and partisan, and it was all held together by assumptions. Channel 4 News has drifted from providing news broadcasts into being an outlet for nodding spokespeople and assorted NGOs and environmental pressure groups, or anyone who can provide interesting or sensational film. It really was the most astonishing and misjudged editorial decision from a news broadcaster that has grown into the habit of poor judgment on almost everything…”

‚ Channel 4 sought to present their programmes in a quasi-legal format. There is of course a name for those courts in which one person is the accuser, judge and jury: a kangaroo court. Channel 4-â„¢s programmes were the journalistic equivalents of such a court.

‚ Channel 4 claimed its programmes were forensic in their approach. Corrupted Journalism: Channel 4 and Sri Lanka shows that Channel 4’s programmes were unprofessional, prejudiced and inaccurate, both in the content presented, the claims made as well as in the material and facts they omitted. The inaccurate and sensationalist Channel 4 narrative regarding the end of the war in Sri Lanka repeatedly ignored the well-documented fact that the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught up in the last weeks of fighting had been forced into the combat zone by the LTTE, who bore the‚  resultant responsibility for any casualties. Similarly, while claiming that Sri Lankan forces shelled no-fire zones they themselves had established, Channel 4 News once again ignored clear evidence that these areas were actually shelled and mortared by the LTTE and that the LTTE themselves fired from within the no-fire zones, often from the vicinity of hospitals. The programmes claimed to be a forensic account of events and yet they ignored a range of facts and evidence that clearly contradicted its narrative. Channel 4 News also made questionable claims regarding video and mobile phone footage that continue to be unsupported by the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur. Similarly, while claiming that the government had a policy of killing those members of the LTTE who had either surrendered or been taken prisoner, Channel 4 News ignored the fact that more than 11,000 LTTE fighters were taken into custody -” the overwhelming majority of whom were subsequently released.

‚ Channel 4’s assertion that up to 40,000 civilians may have died in the last month of the war was plucked out of the air. Corrupted Journalism: Channel 4 and Sri Lanka shows that the claim is statistically and methodologically impossible.

‚ The claims made by Channel 4 regarding Sri Lanka should provide a wake-up call for developing countries. They provide yet another example of a self-selecting, white western ƒ©lite, on the basis of flawed -Ëœadvocacy-â„¢ propaganda, seeking to interfere in the internal affairs of a developing country emerging from decades of civil war. Channel 4’s self-indulgence is undermining Sri Lanka-â„¢s peace and reconciliation process and prejudicing ongoing legitimate investigations into the events of May 2009. Equally disturbing is these kangaroo court trials by western media appear to be shaping aspects of western foreign policy.

‚ In perhaps the most jarring aspect of Channel 4’s skewed claims about Sri Lanka, the British media regulator has ruled that “there is no requirement in the [British Broadcasting] Code for issues to be treated with due accuracy.” The implications are clear. Western media would appear to have a carte blanche to distort and misinform perceptions of events within the developing world

‚ Note to Editors

‚ Engage Sri Lanka can be contacted on [email protected]

‚ Engage Sri Lanka is a British initiative established in 2011 to make the case for the United Kingdom engaging more closely with Sri Lanka. Britain has a very old and historic relationship with Sri Lanka. This relationship is also a cultural, political and economic one and it is vital that our country maintains and develops its connection with one of our oldest partners. In an age of economic uncertainty, British business must make the most of its reputation in Sri Lanka and expand its involvement in the Sri Lankan economy. Sri Lanka-â„¢s commercial law is based on that of the UK and there is a skilled work force. Britain is already the second-largest market, after the United States, for Sri Lankan exports. World Bank figures show that the Sri Lankan economy is growing by 8 percent a year. Sri Lanka is also a strategic partner for British business in South Asia and is a key point of entry into the rapidly growing Indian market. Sri Lanka has the highest ranking in the World Bank-â„¢s -Ëœease of doing business-â„¢ ratings in the region.

‚ The United Kingdom must engage as fully and vigorously as possible with Sri Lanka. British business already faces fierce competition from China and other countries: We must challenge any obstacles to our country-â„¢s political and economic relationship with Colombo, especially those originating from partisan and self-serving quarters.

‚ Sri Lanka Media Watch is a project of Engage Sri Lanka. It was established to monitor coverage of, and reporting on, Sri Lanka in the international media. Sri Lanka Media Watch evaluates this coverage against universally accepted journalistic standards of accuracy and impartiality and, where necessary, a right to reply.

2 Responses to “CORRUPTED JOURNALISM: CHANNEL 4 AND SRI LANKA”

  1. Vis8 Says:

    The original video of ‘channel 4′ infamy, with all dialog in Tamil, the language of the tiger terrorists, that was altered and given to channel 4 can be seen now: you will see terrorists who have donned SL Army uniforms from disrobed soldiers, shooting Sri Lankan soldiers for propaganda videos.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaMqKJIl6VE

    This link was sent to ch 4 website, facebook page etc……. and, as expected, quickly was taken down.

    Why doesn’t the Sri Lankan govt ask ch4 to ‘analyze’ this video????????

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Indrajith,

    Your Wish is My Command: Here is my English TRANSLATION of the Divaina Sinhala editorial!

    ………………………….

    Callum MacRae (Tiger Director making Films-for-Pay)

    Divaina.com
    November 14, 2013

    The Pet Tiger, Callum MacRae, who recently arrived in Sri Lanka to report on the CHOGM, cannot be dismissed as a mere idiot. Having been educated at Britain’s Edinburgh Arts College, he is an educated crafty man. Therefore, his vile activities have some impact and acceptance. Britain, the birthplace of Colonial Imperialism, which stole a significant portion of the world’s wealth over a period of 500 years and sucked off and digested all that was of value in Sri Lanka, is Callum MacRae’s birthplace. He is a news reporter available to all and sundry for rent.

    In the international battle field there are mercenaries, but generally there are no mercenary media journalists. Filling this deficiency, around 2010, Callum MacRae made a documentary video in support of the Tiger terrorists in return for payment of blood money. During the 2011 United Nations Annual Meeting that made-for-pay video was used to stage a vast comedy by the expatriate Tiger activists, and the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora who enable and feed their terrorism. That attempt was not as successful as they had expected. For that reason, the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora got Callum MacRae to produce a second video. Recently, Callum MacRae has been earning his keep screening that video in Tamil countries and Tamil communities worldwide. This proves that Callum MacRae is an opportunist who can be bought and sold very easily for money. This became very clear the day before yesterday from his comment during a discussion with the Island newspaper staff that the LTTE, who sustained him all these years, should be investigated immediately for their war crimes! Why does Callum MacRae say this about the Tiger movement who fed and nourished him until now? At the moment he said it, he was in Sri Lanka, so does he think that he should adapt his comments to please Sri Lankans? Why has he not also said in his native England, even in passing, that the Tigers should be investigated for war crimes? We think he will not say one word against the Tigers, for if he does that he will lose his pay, and his life!

    Sri Lanka is a country that having defeated the terrorists who sought to breakaway a part of its territory and offer it for consumption by Tamil Nadu, is attempting to breathe freely again. What wicked mercenary media manipulators like Callum MacRae are trying to do is to tightly pinch our nostrils just as we attempt to breathe again. This is a characteristic of the relationship between the neo-colonialists and their former colonies. Many Sinhala journalists who are similar mercenaries also exist, but they live under the protection of European countries. We all know that, compared to the number of terrorists who died in the separatist war in Sri Lanka, many more hundreds-of-thousands of terrorists have been slaughtered in European conflicts. For destroying the Taliban and Al-Quaida movements, the United States drops bombs daily on the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In these bombings, Taliban activists, and government employees, shoppers buying goods, traders selling dates, sleeping children expecting to go to school the next day, die by the hundreds without distinction. Why doesn’t Callum MacRae make a video, or stage a play, about these vile acts? Spying on half-the-world by American President Barack Obama’s National Security Adminitration (NSA) was recently exposed. Why doesn’t Callum MacRae make a video, or a play, about this? The whole world knows that the wicked British Colonialists slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent Sri Lankans in suppressing the Uva-Welassa Revolt of 1818, also ravishing thousands of women, decapitating thousands of children, and burning hundreds of thousands of homes. Why does Callum MacCRae avoid making a historical movie about this genocide? The mercenary journalist for rent that he is, is it impossible for him to find a sponsor for this movie?

    Patriotic Sri Lankan expatriates should initiate and fund projects like this.

    Our understanding is that there is no legal room for Callum MacRae, as a journalist, to even contemplate much less actually make, any movies under signed contractual agreements with a terrorist movement such as the LTTE.

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