Saturday, June 4, 2011

Every Move You Make...

Every step you take
Every rap you do
We'll be watching you

"What are some examples of highly offensive words that must be censored from radio? For British state broadcaster BBC, they are not all of the 4-letter variety. The BBC appears to find not just the phrase 'Free Palestine' but even the geographical entity of the Gaza Strip itself unutterable on a cultural show.

"A controversy has broken out over the BBC's anti-Palestinian bias after its digital radio channel BBC 1xtra, which largely plays hip hop, grime and other 'urban music' genres, censored on air references to Palestine.

"First, it censored rapper Mic Righteous's on air free styling on 1xtra when he uttered the phrase 'Free Palestine' - drowning out the two unspeakable words.

"On May 25, the BBC released a statement trying to justify the censorship after a flood of complaints. Its one sentence response said it had 'a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to the artist's freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained'.

"On May 26 blog post, Jody McIntyre said that just after releasing its statement, the BBC was caught in another example of anti-Palestinian censorship on 1xtra in which the words 'Gaza strip' were blanked out in a rapper's freestyle. McIntyre said: 'On the very same radio segment, 'Fire in the Booth' with DJ Charlie Sloth, just a couple of months after the Mic Righteous freestyle, rapper Bigz made a guest appearance. Over a commercial hiphop beat, he rhymes: 'Come on Joe, who you know as hard as this? Bringing more fire than the -- And then silence. The term he used at the end of the line, 'Gaza Strip', has been censored out. Not a political statement, not a humanitarian statement, but the name of a geographical piece of land. A simple description of a place that does exist.

"MacIntyre said: 'The BBC seem intent on completely eradicating any recognition of Palestine's right to exist from their radio broadcasts, but their actions have had the opposite effect. In a strong show of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, the BBC 1xtra Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with page upon page of comments protesting against the blatant censorship. Every single time the radio station make any 'status update' online now, even if its content is completely unrelated, the floodgates are opened. 'Free Palestine!', 'Don't censor Palestine!' Many are demanding to hear [British hip hop artist] Lowkey's popular single 'Long Live Palestine' on radio; despite once reaching number one in the iTunes hip-hop chart, the song was consistently ignored by BBC radio.'

"McIntyre pointed out the hypocrisy at work: 'On the very same show, DJ Charlie Sloth played a Bigz track entitled 'I Just Want the Paper'. In the song he raps: 'Chilling on a beach... Tel Aviv'. Guess what, the words 'Tel Aviv' are not censored out'." (BBC censors ban Palestine references, Stuart Munckton, Green Left Weekly, 1/6/11)

Not to mention every word you speak:

"So when Hamas fires rockets and 13 Israelis are killed, they are part of the problem, but when Israel attacks Gaza and over 1,000 Palestinians are killed, then this is the sort of thing that happens when military action takes place. It can be seen that journalists who do try to feature both sides of the conflict are facing something of an uphill task. There is less to fear in criticising the Palestinians, but to criticise Israel can create major problems. Journalists spoke to us of the extraordinary number of complaints which they receive. We have presented our findings to many groups of media practitioners. After one such meeting a senior editor from a major BBC news programme told us: 'we wait in fear for the phone call from the Israelis'. He then said that the main issues they would face were from how high up had the call come (eg., a monitoring group, or the Israeli embassy), and then how high up the BBC had the complaint gone (eg., to the duty editor or the director general). He described how journalists had checked with him minutes before a programme was broadcast on which words to describe the conflict should now be used." (More Bad News From Israel, Greg Philo & Mike Berry, 2011, p 2)

Ditto for our ABC and SBS. It really is past time for our public broadcasters to grow a spine and give Israel's fifth columnists and agents the bum's rush.

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