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Sky News cleared over coverage of Paris attacks

The Local/AFP · 21 Apr 2015, 12:07

Published: 21 Apr 2015 12:07 GMT+02:00

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UK media regulator Ofcom found that Sky News had used "appropriately limited" footage of policeman Ahmed Merabet’s death, as the channel had edited witness footage so that viewers could not see the moment he was shot dead while he was on the ground. 
The murder occurred just minutes after extremist gunmen stormed into the headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 11. Seventeen people were killed in total over the three-day rampage. 
"Ofcom carefully investigated Sky News' coverage of the shootings in Paris, which included edited footage of the murder of a police officer," said a spokesman for Ofcom. 
"We found that the channel did not breach broadcasting rules. In particular, we concluded it was in the public interest to broadcast footage of this breaking news story, and that the footage was appropriately limited so as not to cause undue offence."
The regulator further found that a number of other channels, including BBC1, were not in breach of ethics codes either. 
"While some of the footage clearly had the potential to cause offence, we noted it was in the public interest for broadcasters to cover such a significant event, and the footage was handled appropriately, limiting the potential to cause offence," said the spokesman.
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Similar complaints have been registered in France, and in February France's major TV and radio networks were formally rapped by the French broadcast regulator, the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA), for what it considered to be serious "breaches" in their coverage of the terror attacks.

The warnings were issued for violations including: showing the moment two of the Islamist gunmen cold-bloodedly shot dead a policeman; identifying the two gunmen before police did so publicly; reporting that people were hiding in a Jewish supermarket taken over by a third gunmen; and providing live video feeds of the deadly police assault on the supermarket.

The broadcast regulator determined that 36 breaches of broadcast rules had been committed, to different degrees of gravity, by state channels France 24, France 2, France 3, France 5, France Info, France Inter and RFI as well as commercial broadcasters TF1, LCI, Euronews, Canal+, BFMTV, iTele, Europe 1, RMC and RTL.

Earlier this month, six people who hid in a supermarket refrigerator during the attacks sued French media for broadcasting their location live during the siege.

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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