Al Jazeera slammed for ‘one-sided’ reports on Iran protests

Many turned to Twitter to criticize Al Jazeera’s coverage of the unrest in Iran (Screengrab)
Updated 01 January 2018
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Al Jazeera slammed for ‘one-sided’ reports on Iran protests

LONDON: The Al Jazeera network has been slammed for its coverage of recent protests in Iran, with critics claiming the Arabic station was slow to cover the events, and later offered reports that side with the “terrorist” regime in Tehran.
Iran has seen a wave over protests that continued on Monday, a day after at least 10 people were killed in violence across the country.
The unrest began as demonstrations against economic conditions but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole, with thousands marching in towns across Iran to chants of “death to the dictator,” AFP reported.
But despite widespread global coverage, the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera network was singled out for its handling of the crisis.
Qatar is part of the Gulf Cooperation Council but its alleged ties to Iran have been a major factor in a diplomatic dispute with neighbors including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Many turned to Twitter to comment on Al Jazeera’s apparent delay in reporting on the unrest in Iran.
Twitter user Khaled wrote: “Al Jazeera, your correspondents in Iran are sleeping, they are not sending you any news.”
Others claimed that Al Jazeera had ignored the voice of the Iranian opposition.
One wrote on Twitter: “Why don’t you cover remarks from the Iranian opposition, as you claim to be the channel of opinion and the opinion of the other? You are zionists of the era.”
Twitter user Milad Al-Otaibi wrote that Al Jazeera had showed its “real face” in masking the “sound of freedom and the truth.”

Another wrote that Al Jazeera “claims it was with the people during the Arab Spring, but when it came to the Iranian winter, it sided with the repressive, terrorist Iranian regime against the oppressed people.”

The barrage of online criticism moved Yasser Abuhilala, managing director of Al Jazeera News, to defend the network.
“Do not accuse Al Jazeera of ignoring the protests in Iran,” he tweeted. “Al Jazeera’s coverage is done professionally and these campaigns increase confidence in the channel as a reliable, professional … source. The viewer judges impartiality and they are what matters to us.”

Yet others said Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Iran protests showed the network’s long-rehearsed tactics.
Abdellatif El-Menawy, an Egyptian media analyst, said Al Jazeera had a “absence of neutrality” in covering political events across the region as a whole.
“The most obvious case was during the January 2011 demonstrations in Egypt, where the channel was (clearly a non-neutral) player. (That is what they are doing) today with the demonstrations in Iran, exaggerating what they want to exaggerate and underestimating the presence of the other side. Such a thing happened in Syria too when they took on events to impose a certain vision.”
While most of the criticism was aimed at the Arabic-language channel, others said Al Jazeera English had also changed its tone in recent years.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said: “I remember in 2009, Al Jazeera English was the go-to channel for people in the West to follow the Green Revolution in Iran and to get the latest updates. Nowadays it really does seem that, more often than not, AJE has become the go-to channel to get the Iranian regime’s viewpoint on the ongoing uprising. The change in editorial tone is markedly noticeable.”
Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.


Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

Updated 19 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

  • Broadcast of political messages in coverage forbidden, analyst confirms.
  • Saudi football federation urges FIFA to sanction the Doha-owned channel.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has a justified case in complaining to FIFA over the “politicization” of the World Cup by the Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports, a prominent TV analyst has said.
A flurry of comments by hosts and pundits aired on BeIN’s Arabic station prompted the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to complain to FIFA this week, saying the broadcaster was using the football tournament to spread political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders.
In its complaint, the federation called on FIFA to take severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and to abolish the rights granted to the network.
One BeIN commentator accused Saudi Arabia of “selling out the Palestinian cause,” while a Doha-based international footballer invited on the channel was allowed to call for an end to the year-long boycott of Qatar by neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal TV research analyst at IHS Markit Technology, said that politicized coverage was expressly forbidden by world football’s governing body as well as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
“FIFA and UEFA forbid the transmission of political messages during football matches for which they control the rights. It’s not only comments by the broadcasters — but even banners; everything (political) is forbidden,” the analyst told Arab News.
“So messages about Palestine, about political things, are not allowed.”
Papavassilopoulos said that if there is evidence of such cases, authorities in the Kingdom would be justified in taking the matter to FIFA.
“If there are video clips that show BeIN media personnel speaking against Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has a case,” he said.
But whether FIFA will take any action against BeIN is another matter. Papavassilopoulos pointed to the fact that BeIN is a valued client of FIFA — it bought the rights to host the World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa — and that Qatar plans to host the tournament in 2022.
“BeIN media is a very good client for FIFA. And don’t forget that Qatar is the country that will host the 2022 World Cup,” he said. “It’s going to be very very hard for FIFA to impose penalties on BeIN media knowing that Qatar will hold the next World Cup.”
Some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against BeIN’s politicization of World Cup coverage, urging FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate the coverage.
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.