AIJAC/ECAJ welcomes latest ACMA report on al-Manar as significant step forward

December 10, 2010 Agencies
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The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has welcomed ACMA’s finding that al-Manar breached Australia’s broadcasting codes in regards to racism.

“Anti-Jewish hatred on al-Manar has long been a feature of the station,” said AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein. “Recognition of this issue, which ACMA did not look into in its previous investigation, is to be commended.”

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on Thursday released its latest report into whether Hezbollah-affiliated satellite television station al-Manar has breached Australia’s anti-terrorist standards or broadcasting codes.

“AIJAC further welcomes the acknowledgement by ACMA that the existing community safeguards against media outlets which support terrorism are not strong enough,” said AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler. “ACMA’s suggested reforms of these safeguards are therefore a positive step.”

Unfortunately, the ACMA investigation and findings were still disappointing in some respects, he added. “AIJAC is concerned that ACMA apparently ignored evidence that advertisements of a particular charity, al-Emdad, which is a front for Hezbollah, breach the Anti-Terrorism Standards,” said Mr. Leibler.

AIJAC’s view that al-Manar should be banned in Australia because it is owned and operated by the terrorist organisation Hezbollah has not changed. “Al-Manar’s raison d’être is to radicalise Muslims around the world – including in Australia – to support Hezbollah’s terrorist methods and goals,” said Dr. Rubenstein. “AIJAC believes any media organisation owned and/or operated by any banned terrorist organisation should also be banned in Australia and the federal government should take appropriate measures to bring this about.”

“We also hope and expect that, given their common interest in preventing incitement to terrorism and extremism, Australian and Indonesian authorities will be liaising to address the continued import of al-Manar into both countries via Indosat,” he added.

The Executive Director of the ECAJ, Peter Wertheim, cautiously welcomed the findings.

The investigation examined the service’s program content over a 14-month period and found two breaches of regulatory requirements prohibiting terrorist related material, as well as racial vilification and hate speech.

“A key outcome of the investigation was the recommendation by ACMA to broaden the Broadcasting Services (Anti-terrorism Requirements for Open Narrowcasting Television Services) Standard 2008 so as to prohibit transmissions which indirectly counsel or urge the doing of a terrorist act or which directly praise the doing of a terrorist act”, Mr Wertheim said.

“This will close a loophole in the current standard and bring it into line with the anti-terrorism provisions of the Classifications Act, as recommended by the ECAJ in its submission to ACMA in September 2009.  I urge the Australian Government to put the recommendation into effect at the earliest opportunity and to formally request the Indonesian government to stop further Indosat transmissions of al-Manar programming into Australia

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