The UK’s independent media regulator, Ofcom, has found that Channel 4’s documentary examining war crimes in Sri Lanka did not breach any broadcasting codes and was impartial.
The documentary, broadcast in June this year, examined the final events of the Sri Lankan government’s offensive in the Vanni, where they have been accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In a statement Monday, Ofcom said,
"Channel 4 has a unique public service remit to provide programming that is challenging, diverse and likely to provoke debate. Consequently, the broadcaster has a history of broadcasting very challenging material from war zones (including graphic footage) and seeking out the voices and views of those who may not be represented.”
"Ofcom therefore concluded that overall Channel 4 preserved due impartiality in its examination of the Sri Lankan government's actions and policies during its offensive and there was no breach of [the broadcasting code]."
See report from the Guardian here.
The regulator also went on to say,
"The images included in this programme, whilst brutal and shocking, would not have exceeded the expectations of the audience for this Channel 4 documentary scheduled well after the watershed with very clear warnings about the nature of the content."
The documentary features footage from inside the “safe zones” of the war showing civilian settlements and hospitals being bombed. Videos from Sri Lankan soldier’s mobile phones were also included, which showed extrajudicial killings and images of dead naked bodies, suggesting torture and sexual abuse had occurred.
It has gone on to be broadcasted on both Australian and Indian television, as well as being shown in the EU, British Parliament, Washington and other capitals across the world, sponsored by human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Crisis Group.
Last week, Dorothy Byrne, the Channel 4 head of news and current affairs told a Lords committee, which is inquiring into the future of investigative journalism, that Channel 4 faced an intense worldwide PR campaign, conducted by the Sri Lankan government.
See our earlier post: ‘Protest was organised by Ministry of Defence – Channel 4’ (Oct 2011)