WikiLeaks: US accuses Jang Group of publishing ‘false, inflammatory’ stories
US embassy asked government to end Voice of America’s contract with Geo
KARACHI: The United States (US) had blamed Jang Group of “consciously publishing and broadcasting false and inflammatory stories” against the US and its interests despite having a contract with the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and airing Voice of America (VoA) on Geo TV, revealed a recently released WikiLeaks cable, also published on Dawn.com.
The cable sent from the US Embassy in Islamabad requested the government to end the contract between the BBG and Geo TV after it had increased criticism of the US government and its policies and was found to be involved in “anti-Semitic behavior” and of targeting Ahmadis in one of its television programs.
It is purposefully using the reach of its television network to amplify unchecked hate speech and promote violence in a brazen attempt to uphold or even increase its market share in a down economy. Post requests that the BBG cancel its contract to disseminate VoA programming through Geo.
The cable quotes a number of occasions where the US Embassy found the group to be involved in printing unsubstantiated and inaccurate reports.
During the November 17, 2008 blackout of Geo TV, a “senior” Geo staffer told a senior Locally Engaged Staffer (LES) at the embassy that the stoppage was a result of political pressure after the channel had refused to air a speech of a politician. Another Geo staffer told a European diplomatic mission that the channel had taken itself off the air to “garner support for the station”.
On November 17, 2008, “Geo TV” suddenly disappeared from the airwaves in Karachi. The blackout lasted about six hours. A senior “Geo” staffer told our senior information LES that the stoppage was a result of pressure being applied by one of the political parties due to “Geo” not airing a speech by one of its politicians. Post found out subsequently that another “Geo” official disclosed to an officer of a European diplomatic mission that they had taken themselves off the air in order to blame the political party, and garner support for the station.
Despite US insistence that the group contact and ask the embassy to respond to stories, the Jang Group had not changed its practices, states the cable.
The group editor of Jang told the information officer that many of the group’s reporters had “political agendas, are paid by ISI, military intelligence, Jamaat-e-Islami, or other interests but that they prefer not to fire or reprimand these reporters.”
Geo saw its sensationalism and hate speech as a win-win as it managed to generate ratings, said the information officer at the embassy.
The embassy felt that the TV channel was helping with the amplification of “reporting rumor, innuendo, and unsubstantiated allegations”, and by the channels own admission it was doing this to “maintain or increase” market share.
The cable requests that BBG contract for broadcasting VoA through Geo TV be terminated, and a ”more balanced and responsible partner” be found.
VoA airs a show on Geo News and co-produces ‘The Platform’ with English news channel Express 24/7, a sister concern of The Express Tribune.
Source: The Express Tribune