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UK’s Ofcom To Probe Channel 4 ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ Documentary

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The UK Government’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) is to investigate the veracity of Channel 4’s recent documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s killing Fields’ following complaints that it was misleading and misrepresentative, according to the Sri Lanka government.

British-based TV website TV Pixie, in a report filed by Alex Guest, disclosed that Ofcom would probe the program, presented by Jon Snow and produced by Callum Macrae. Ofcom is the UK’s Independent regulator and competition authority for the communications industries. “Ofcom will assess the complaints against the program under their Broadcasting Code to see if it needs further investigation and action. Ofcom is empowered to fine the broadcaster(s) if it determines that the Code has been violated.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr. Palitha Kohona said the commentator John Snow and the UK-based Channel 4 (Ch-4), which made the video – Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields – depending heavily on information from the LTTE’s propaganda arm, TamilNet, had deliberately produced the video to influence international public opinion and arouse sympathy towards the LTTE and its cause.

Ofcom has received over 100 complaints since the film was aired on Channel 4 on June 14. Alex Guest commented that it is within the realm of possibilities that the additional material (presented by Channel 4) was partially or even entirely fabricated. “If Channel 4 has fabricated material or attempted to mislead the public through editing, Ofcom will see fit to censure the broadcaster.”

Sri Lankan diplomats and leading forensic video experts had contested Channel 4’s claims of accuracy.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities on Friday revealed that they were in possession of an original video which had been altered by Channel 4.

Dr. Kohona and his deputy, Major General Shavendra Silva, exposed the technical ‘lies’ in the video at a screening of the documentary at the UN Church Centre in New York, sponsored by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, on June 22.

“The commentary is heavily biased towards the LTTE propaganda watch. This is obvious from the pictures and phrases used and the way John Snow tries so hard to create sympathy towards the LTTE cause. It is just unmistakable, one would describe his commentary as gut-wrenching”, he said.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer Dr. Kohona, who is now in Sri Lanka, discussed the motive of Ch-4, the initiatives taken by the Government to save Tamils facing LTTE terror and future action against Ch-4. He said they had dealt with the video adequately at its screening.

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