Two Fox News interviews about about Muslim “no-go-zones” that aired last January violated U.K. broadcast laws, the country’s communications regulator ruled Monday.
Fox News was found in breach of British broadcast code that says, “Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience.”
Additionally the agency — the Office of Communications or “Ofcom,” for short — said the apologies Fox aired after the fact did not do enough to mitigate “materially misleading statements and the potential harm and offence caused to viewers.”
The Ofcom investigation looked at segments featured in the Jan. 11 episode of “Justice with Jeanine Pirro,” which aired in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo. During the interviews one guest, Nolan Peterson suggested that there Muslim “no-go-zones” in Paris “that the French authorities have abandoned,” the Ofcom report said. In the other interview, Steve Emerson said that there were European towns, namely Birmingham, “that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” according to the Ofcom report.
In its decision Ofcom noted that the guests that had been brought on had been presented as experts and had appeared on the show previously. Peterson was labeled “an expert on the radicalisation of the French Muslims,” and Steve Emerson is the founder of the Investigative Project, according to the Ofcom report.
Furthermore, Ofcom noted, the host Jeanine Pirro, a former prosecutor, introduced the topic of no-go-zones and “asked Mr Peterson and Mr Emerson leading questions which, in Ofcom’s view, encouraged the discussion of no-go zones and led to further misstatements about Paris and Birmingham.”
Fox News broadcast apologies for the statements a week after the original airdate, both on “Justice with Jeanine Pirro” and “Fox Report Weekend,” the Ofcom report noted.
However, considering how delayed those apologies were, Ofcom said they were not enough.
“Critically, our concerns stemmed from the fact that the statements were made in a current affairs programme which dealt with a controversial subject matter at an extremely sensitive time following the Hebdo Attack and subsequent incidents,” Ofcom said. “For these reasons, we did not consider that the apologies and corrections sufficiently mitigated the materially misleading statements and the potential harm and offence caused to viewers of the Programme.”
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