Britain bars ITV embedded reporters
Updated: 2006-10-25 09:28
London - Britain's Defense Ministry has
barred the country's largest commercial news broadcaster from reporting
alongside the nation's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in a dispute over the
network's coverage of wounded soldiers, a ministry official said Tuesday.
A British soldier moves into position during a patrol in the
southern Iraqi city of Basra, October 18. Most Britons want a swift
withdrawal of their nation's troops from Iraq, according to two new polls,
despite Prime Minister Tony Blair's vows to see the mission through.
The ministry accused ITV News of inaccurate and intrusive reporting in a
series of broadcasts last week that documented the treatment provided to injured
troops returning from combat.
Several of the reports were critical of the standards of hospital care
offered to the injured and of the treatment of soldiers who said they were
suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Employees for the network will not be allowed to join British military units
on embed programs -- where journalists report alongside troops in battle
zones -- until the dispute is resolved, said a Defense Ministry spokesman
speaking on condition of anonymity under civil service restrictions.
"The ministry is concerned about inaccuracies in some of the reporting and
concerns that images of wounded soldiers were shown without seeking the
permission of the individuals concerned," the spokesman said.
Executives from ITV News have called on a key adviser to Prime Minister Tony
Blair, Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell, to intervene.
"We are in correspondence with the Ministry of Defense about the issues and
are seeking clarification about what restrictions have been placed on our
reporters. However, we stand by our stories," ITV News Editor in Chief David
Mannion told The Associated Press.
Defense officials say some of the injured soldiers could be identified in the
program and that the footage could have caused distress to their families.
In a letter sent to ITV News, the ministry warned it will consider taking the
case to broadcasting regulators and is assessing the potential for legal action
over an alleged invasion of privacy of one injured soldier.
"You should be under no illusions about the level of anger that exists as a
result of items you carried on your programs," said the ministry spokesman,
reading from the letter.
He said ITV News would not be prevented from interviewing British military
officials in London or abroad, but confirmed the organization would not be able
to embed reporters.