NEW YORK (May. 3)
Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI), charging that WNBC-TV presented distorted and one-sided coverage of the war in Lebanon, and therefore violated the Fairness Doctrine, said today that it had filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny renewal of the station’s broadcast license.
At a news conference at Freedom House, Peter Goldman, director of AFSI, said the group also filed petitions against seven other New York State NBC affiliate stations.
AFSI contends that during 600 minutes of reporting on the Lebanese conflict between June 4, 1982 and August 31, 1982 by NBC Nightly News, less than 30 minutes were devoted to airing Israeli perspectives, factual background information or objective points of view. Most of the rest, according to AFSI, was presented from the Arab viewpoint.
In a 100-page brief filed with the FCC, AFSI also charged NBC and WNBC with “purposeful” falsification of facts, biased reporting and editorializing, selective and tendentious interviewing techniques and biased terminology. AFSI accused NBC of virtually ignoring the PLO’s brutal occupation of Lebanon and its terrorist activities, and presenting the PLO in a favorable manner while denigrating Israel and its leaders.
SIMILAR ACTIONS AGAINST NEW ENGLAND AFFILIATES
The filing against New York State NBC affiliates comes on the heels of similar action by AFSI against the New England offiliates of the same network. AFSI filed these petitions March 1, and they are currently being considered by the FCC. The new petition has been re-written and enlarged, listing additional acts of bias by the network.
A portion of this document includes testimony from Lebanese civilians who live in PLO-controlled areas and spoke of the terrible treatment they were subject to by the PLO.
“NBC misled and deceived the American public a? we believe it is the FCC’s duty to protect the public right to be correctly and fairly informed,” Goldman said. “We are asking the FCC to deny broadcast licenses to the stations because they failed to fulfill-under law — the Fairness Doctrine, and participated in NBC’s deliberate distortion of the news.”
Herbert Zweibon, AFSI’s chairman, said, “Our efforts to engage in a meaningful discussion with NBC has been pushed aside. We have no other course but legal means.” NBC officials have declined to comment on the charges.
Joining AFSI as a party to the challenge was New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D. Brooklyn), who was also present at the news conference. “I feel that Israel was mistreated and dealt with unfairly by the media,” he said. “While many news organizations were guilty of grossly inaccurate reporting, NBC was certainly the leader of this type of coverage. They certainly did not act in a fair and responsible manner.”