Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Iran's Press TV arrives in Europe

Press TV joins the ever growing number of news channels on Astra

Iran’s news channel Press TV has joined the free-to-air line-up of channels available in Europe via the Astra satellite [channel 525]. Along with Sky News, the BBC News channel, CNN, al-Jazeera English, France 24, Russia Today and Euro News it brings the number of rolling news stations to eight. Though not entirely geared to news coverage, China’s international station CCTV-9 also complements the ever increasing line up of world media broadcasters providing different slants to news around the globe.

As regards its global footprint CNN still provides the best coverage, even available in hotels across China where foreign media is still highly restricted. BBC World is also becoming more accessible in many countries but lags way behind that of CNN. Europe is privileged in as much as it is served by many news channels both domestic and global though some remain encrypted and are only available by subscription. MSNBC, Fox News and India’s NDTV are available on Astra but require a monthly fee.

Press TV’s coverage is in sharp contrast to that of other broadcasters. Opinion aired on the channel is often particularly critical of Israel. During some of today’s programming, a Beirut correspondent, Matthew Cassel, described coverage on CNN and the BBC as biased in respect to pictures it showed. He claimed that while the suffering experienced by Israelis at the receiving end of rockets launched by Hamas was shown, there were few pictures of the suffering endured by those in Gaza. Indeed the rolling pictures shown on Press TV have been far more graphic than those seen on other television news channels. Al-Jazeera has shown some pictures which are often described by TV anchors as ‘disturbing’, but Sky, the BBC and CNN have tended to shield viewers from the most graphic pictures. The BBC have described scenes of carnage and the condition of some victims, but pictures tend to be of destroyed buildings and long shot of distant explosions and flying F-15s.

Bardia Honardar, Press TV’s anchor, said the latest death toll was 385 and that 1,700 had been injured during Israel’s bombardment while they had suffered losses amounting to 5 dead. The numbers of dead vary between different broadcasters. The BBC and al-Jazeera are saying that there are now 360 dead in Gaza while Sky states “at least 360” have perished. Meanwhile, CNN says that the death toll has risen to 375.

Time given over the story also varies considerably. Though somewhat rambling in its coverage, Press TV is almost constant in its reporting. Al-Jazeera and CNN have given almost equal time to the story while the BBC and Sky ‘s reportage has begun to wane after four days of fighting. While it remains the top story for other channels such as RT and France 24, the coverage has dropped to only a few minutes per hour.

[CNN / Sky News / BBC / al-Jazeera / CCTV / Russia Today / France 24 / Press TV / Euronews]

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