Broadcasters in the spotlight

July 16, 2018 by  
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Australia and New Zealand key broadcasters ABC and TVNZ have received complaints following reporting on Gaza, ABC for the weekend’s Israel’s retaliation following rocket and mortar attacks and TVNZ for the recent riots.


The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the national representative body of the Australian Jewish community, yesterday lodged an official complaint with the national broadcaster, the ABC over its recent coverage of events in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Rocket from Gaza Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS on July 14, 2018

In particular, the ECAJ has objected to the lead report on ABC TV’s Sunday morning news program on 15 July 2018, which wrongly implied that the latest round of violence in Gaza began with Israel’s “wave of airstrikes”. The report omitted critical facts that were highly relevant to the story and to an understanding of how the outbreak of violence began. Specifically, the report omitted to mention that on June 13 and 14, Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched more than 170 rockets and mortars at civilian population centres within Israel,hitting a home, a children’s playground and a synagogue, and that the Israeli government had announced that the ensuing airstrikes were a response to this barrage of rocket and mortar attacks. These facts had already been publicly reported and were readily available to the ABC.

The ABC report’s mention of “a rocket” which was “believed” to have injured three Israelis was entirely inadequate. It gave the viewer no information at all about the magnitude of the Palestinian rocket and mortar barrage into Israel, or the fact that that barrage had preceded the Israeli airstrikes, or the fact that the announced purpose of the airstrikes was to suppress further Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks against civilians in Israel.


By leaving out critical facts which were relevant to the story, this ABC news report: entirely omitted context; obscured cause and effect; and misled its audience about which side had initiated the outbreak of violence, which was the subject of the story.

The national broadcaster is relied upon by millions of Australians to provide balanced and accurate reporting of pressing events from around the world, including from Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Where the ABC fails to abide by the standards required of it by its Code of Practice, the ECAJ will continue to act to ensure the broadcaster is held to account in the interests of fair and honest reporting.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s state-owned television network, TVNZ, reported on the Gaza riots in no fewer than three bulletins during their One News show in June. Following a complaint, TVNZ has admitted that they were inaccurate when reporting the number of casualties as “hundreds of people have been killed”, saying:

“The Committee therefore finds that standard 9 [of inaccurate reporting] was breached in regard to the 8 and 9 June bulletins. 1 News apologises to you for this breach of standards and would like you to know that a note was sent to newsroom staff saying that the errors were unacceptable; and that special care was needed in reports such as these.”TVNZ

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli forces near the Gaza-Israel border on May 14, 2018. Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

In fact, out of the tens of thousands of Gazans who were bussed to the border with Israel, the UN has reported 131 Palestinian deaths. And approximately 80% of the casualties have been identified as terrorists – consistent throughout the weeks of riots. On the bloodiest day, when 62 Palestinians were killed, Hamas admitted that at least 50 of those were terror operatives.

TVNZ One News exaggerated the number of casualties on the Palestinian side and they did not report the proportion of casualties known to be terrorists. Further, there was other context about the riots that was missing from news reports. However, TVNZ did not find a breach of the standards of balance or fairness.

The inaccurate reporting is similar to a previous case that went to the Broadcasting Standards Authority where Rachel Smalley incorrectly reported that Israel had “killed every civilian inside” on NewsTalk ZB’s KPMG Early Edition radio show. Actually, 16 out of 3,300 people were killed in a strike against a Hamas rocket launching pad that was next to a United Nations school.

Exaggerating the number of deaths and leaving out important context is unbecoming of a serious news outlet. It is pleasing to see TVNZ acknowledge its inaccurate reporting and advise its staff to take special care. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict is an extremely sensitive one where emotions run very high and responsible, not reckless, reporting is required. We hope that future reporting of Israel will not continue to mislead audiences.

The Australia Jewish Association’s Dr David Adler appeared on Sky News’ The Outsiders on Monday evening.



One Response to “Broadcasters in the spotlight”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    “Retaliation” is not what Israel has done.
    What Israel has done is active defence as well as an attempt to deter Arab “Palestinians’ from further aggression.

    The myth of “tit for tat” that much of the media love to propagate is designed to hide the fact that Arab “Palestinians” are the aggressors, while Israel, which has better things to do with its resources than mount military operations—-such as medical research and saving Syrian Arabs’ lives for example—is forced by the enemy to channel resources into active defence and deterrence.

    Scotch the fabricated version of history- past and current.

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