Thursday, January 19, 2006

Roj-TV and Freedom of the Press

By Oluf Jørgensen,
The Centre for Journalism and Supplementary Training

The Turkish government would like the Kurdish TV station Roj-TV that transmits via satellite from Denmark to be closed. Lately it has been reported that also the USA has presented wishes that Roj-TV be closed.

Roj-TV has not excited hatred, it was concluded by the Danish Radio and TV Board in April of 2005. This verdict was reached in a complaint made by the Turkish Embassy. The embassy gave as its reason for this complaint two video tapes with recordings of news items from Roj-TV.
The recordings were about confrontations between Kurdish guerrillas and the Turkish military, about movements of Turkish troops, and about the attacks by Kurdish guerrillas against various targets. The footage of the news items apparently had been filmed by the guerrillas.
The executive order regarding satellite and cable TV in its § 11, subsection 3 says: "The programmes must no in any way incite hatred based on race, gender, religion, nationality, or sexual inclinations".

The Danish Radio and TV Board when reviewing the news items in question did not find any calls for or incitements to hatred of any kind.

The Board makes it clear that it is not decisive that statements or pieces of information published by some may be interpreted as incitement. Items wil typically have different effects with persons with different notions conceived beforehand.

According to the Board it is decisive whether statementes or pieces of information are published with the purpose of inciting and calling for hatred. The Board states that the publishing of pieces of information does not in itself constitute an "incitement". Any such notion would impede a free press from informing and reporting about relations and events.

First Published in Danish 1 december 2005