MEDIA SIGN PLEDGE TO RESTRICT TERRORISM COVERAGE
Signed on 8 April, the agreement states that the directors will pledge to seek official approval before interviewing suspected terrorists on the air, be mindful of the "tone" of their coverage, and prevent journalists from acting as independent mediators during a crisis situation, CPJ says.
Signatories included directors of the Channel One and Rossiya television networks, the Mediasoyuz journalists' union and the independent Ekho Moskvy radio station. They are members of the Industrial Committee, a lobby group of executives from private and state-run media who have been meeting government officials in recent months.
The voluntary agreement comes in the wake of the October 2002 crisis in which Chechen rebels took over a Moscow theatre and held dozens of people hostage, CPJ notes. Several media outlets, including Ekho Moskvy, NTV television station and the newspaper "Rossiiskaya Gazeta," were admonished by the government for broadcasting interviews with rebels and relatives of hostages during the crisis. [See
IFEX "Communiqué" #11-42]
The news directors' pledge to ban journalists from acting as independent crisis mediators is an apparent reference to the role Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist for the independent newspaper "Novaya Gazeta," played in attempting to negotiate between the Chechen rebels and the Russian military, notes CPJ.
Last October, the Russian parliament introduced amendments to legislation that would have placed tighter restrictions on the media's ability to report on terrorism. The amendments would have given the government greater powers to ban media from printing or broadcasting information that "justifies extremist activities, justifies resistance to counter-terrorist operations, hinders counter-terrorist operations, and reveals anti-terrorist tactics," CPJ says. In November, President Vladimir Putin vetoed the proposed amendments.
Visit these links:
- Committee to Protect Journalists:
- Human Rights Watch Backgrounder on the October hostage crisis:
- Anna Politkovskaya Wins 2003 OSCE Award for Journalism and Democracy: