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UN Blames "Clerical Error" For Cutting Off UNTV of Palestine's Erekat Speech

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- On what basis does the UN decide to cut off the UN Television broadcast of a speech by Palestine's negotiator Saeb Erekat, as happened on May 20?

  Inner City Press asked the question right after the cut-off, wrote about it, and six and a half hour later was told by the chief of UNTV Stephane Dujarric, "On the video coverage of the Palestinian meeting, we were advised by the conference officer that the meeting would now be closed. For further information, I would ask you to speak to the organisers of the event."

  But the day's UN Journal clearly said that the session would be webcast, that is, televised:

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

10:30 to 13:00 352nd meeting [webcast] Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB)

Briefing by Mr. SaŽb Erakat, Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Chief Palestinian Negotiator

  The UN having announced in advance that something would be televised would seem to trump whatever an unnamed conference officer said, no? So Inner City Press again asked Dujarric:

"Once UNTV cut off, I went to the balcony and [the meeting was not closed.] And later, at least after the noon briefing, the UNTV broadcast was back on. Not sure how to square any of this with the answer you've sent, now at 6 pm. Who is the conference officer you are referring to? I'm writing on this."

  Dujarric responded: "As for the Palestinian meeting, that's the info I have now. When I get something more, I will share." Inner City Press continued to wait before publishing this article. Then, past 7:15 pm, this from the UN's Dujarric:

From: Stephane Dujarric [at]
Date: Mon, May 20, 2013 at 7:18 PM
Subject: Re: Pressing Q: why did UNTV cut off while Saeb Erakat spoke on Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People? & bulletin board, etc
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]
Cc: funca [at], Maher Nasser [at]

Dear Matthew, Due to a clerical error the meeting was listed as closed and notate available to UNTV. However, we will have a recording made available to us tomorrow. It will then be posted on the UN webcast page.


Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Director, News & Media Division | Department of Public Information
United Nations Headquarters | Room: S-1056 New York, NY, 10017

  It's still hard to understand what "clerical error" could have been deemed to trump the day's UN Journal, which plainly listed the session as open and webcast.

  Getting these procedures right is important. Why would UNTV rely more on an unnamed conference officer and unspecific clerical error than on the UN Journal and UN Department of Public Information's Media Alert, which listed the session as open?

  And if a recording exists, the session was video-taped. Does this mean that other meetings that UNTV thinks, rightly or wrongly, are closed are video-taped?

  These are questions that people including diplomats were asking as Monday came to an end in the UN's North Lawn building. We'll have more on this tomorrow. Watch this site.

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