Ofcom has dismissed a complaint from Campaign Against Antisemitism regarding a Channel 4 segment that criticised the International Definition of Antisemitism without offering a Jewish perspective. The media regulator said that it found “no issues warranting investigation under its rules.”
Speakers during the segment, which lasted nearly ten minutes, repeatedly stated that the Definition “silenced” debate about Israel, which is precisely the “Livingstone Formulation” that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) confirmed was used to victimise Jews in the Labour Party to such an extent that it broke equalities law. In using this antisemitic formulation, the segment breached Ofcom’s guidance on harm and offence.
The failure to include a single representative from the mainstream Jewish community – in which there is a consensus in favour of widespread adoption of the Definition – represented a failure by Channel 4 News to show due impartiality in its programme, which is also a breach of Ofcom’s guidance.
In Ofcom’s response to us, they wrote: “In our view, the editorially-linked interview with Daniel Barenboim provided further context and helped to reflect an Israeli and Jewish perspective to the extent it was necessary given the limited content that had referred critically to the policies and actions of the Israeli Government in the earlier Akram Salhab item.”
Regarding our complaints that the Definition should not have been labelled ‘controversial’ due to its widespread adoption, and that under the Definition criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic, Ofcom replied: “In our view, the programme did not suggest that the Definition does not permit any criticism of Israel whatsoever. It also correctly highlighted that calling the existence of a state of Israel a racist endeavour would fall within the [D]efinition of antisemitism. We also considered that there has been a robust debate around the [Definition] and about the government’s efforts to convince universities to adopt it. In this context, we do not consider it would have been misleading to the audience to have described the [D]efinition as ‘controversial’.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2020 revealed that almost half of British Jews consider Channel 4’s coverage of matters of Jewish interest and antisemitism to be unfavourable, while almost a third add that they are unsatisfied with how Channel 4 deals with complaints relating to antisemitism.
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors traditional media and regularly holds outlets to account. If members of the public are concerned about reportage in the media, they should contact us at [email protected]