BOSTON (Jun. 25)
An announcement by the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Boston that it would complain to the Federal Communications Commission about alleged unfairness by WBZ-TV was described by the television station’s program manager as “premature,” since, he said, the Council had agreed to meet with the station on the matter Monday or Tuesday.
The Council is protesting the station’s refusal to allow an editorial commentary to rebut a June 4 statement by Erwin D. Canham, 68-year-old editor of the Christian Science Monitor. Canham, in one of a regular series of personal commentaries by various news analysts disseminated by Group W (Westinghouse Broadcasting), said of the “awful tragedy” at Tel Aviv’s Lydda Airport May 30 that “terror cannot be ended by terror.” An “Israeli reprisal by force,” he said, could “lead to continuing escalation of terror.”
SAYS CANHAM DISTORTED ISSUES
The JCC was angered, it said in its announcement, because Canham “equated the massacre by Arab-paid terrorists. . .with efforts by Israeli soldiers to free a plane and its passengers held hostage by Arab terrorists two weeks earlier.” “At no time,” said Albert Schlossberg, chairman of the JCC’s Media Committee, “did Mr. Canham refer to the true culprits in the case, to Arab terrorists and to the governments of Lebanon, Egypt and Syria which harbor and encourage them. But, in his mild and effective way, Mr. Canham seemed to leave the impression that the Israelis were actually responsible for the massacre because they failed to yield to the Arab hijackers and release imprisoned terrorists demanded by the hijackers when they took over a Sabena Airline plane earlier in May.”
WBZ-TV program manager Paul D. Coss told a JCC delegation and later the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he did not feel a rebuttal “was necessary,” since he felt that the station’s news coverage of the Lydda shoot-out and its aftermath emphasized the points the JCC thought important. The JCC complaint arrived at his office, he said, “at the very moment Moshe Dayan was on our air talking about that incident.” Coss added, however, that he considered the delegation to be “very sincere” and that a “very agreeable” solution should be forthcoming.
Joining Schlossberg in the group were Philip Krup of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and JCC counsel Stephen R. Morse. They said the FCC’s so-called fairness doctrine “requires opposing viewpoints to be aired on radio and television stations.” More accurately, the doctrine applies to “controversial issues of public importance.”