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After Cutting Off Syria Again, UN Tells ICP Wishes Censored Better in 2012

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 20 -- When Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari held a press conference on June 18 in the UN Press Briefing Room, the UN's internet broadcast cut off.

  This wasn't the first time.

  As Inner City Press reported in June 2012, UNTV cut off as Ja'afari spoke in the UN General Assembly to respond to comments by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the then-President of the General Assembly from Qatar, now a Ban Administration official on the Alliance of Civilizations.

  So on June 19, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the cut-off, transcript here, video here:

Inner City Press: it may seem minor to you, but in the briefing that was done yesterday by the Syrian Ambassador, [Bashar] Ja’afari, there were some complaints, this has happened before, this is why I’m asking you, there were some complaints about the webcast of it, that it actually was not viewable. So I wanted to know, have you looked into this? Do you have any comment on it? I believe that they’ve made some complaint about it since it’s happened before.

Spokesman Dujarric: It’s not minor at all. We’re very much aware that there was a cut in the live coverage. There was an issue relating to the way video goes from this room and other rooms into the MAM system and into whatever other systems that are used. You’re well aware that we’ve had issues before. It impacted live events yesterdays, not only this press briefing for the Syrian Ambassador, but also a live GA [General Assembly] event, so this was not the only event that was impacted. Everything that was live was impacted. The archive video is now up on the web for all of the events. The Under-Secretary-General for Public Information has been in contact with the Permanent Representative of Syria, has offered his apologies and has shared the explanation with him that I’ve just shared with you.

  But questions continued to mounts. So on June 20 after Dujarric had repeated that this cut-off was purely technical, Inner City Press asked about the previous case in June 2012. Video here.

  At that time, Inner City Press received the following answer:

Subject: Your question on UNTV
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
Date: Sun, Jun 10, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Regarding your question on UNTV's broadcast last Thursday, this is what the Spokesperson had to say about it on Friday, 8 June:

"I have a message from our colleagues in the News and Media Division. They very much regret and apologize for the brief disruption of the UN's broadcasting of the General Assembly meeting on Syria yesterday. This was due to a miscommunication within the division. Every effort is being made to prevent similar occurrences in the future."

  When Inner City Press brought up this June 7, 2012 incident on June 20, 2014, spokesman Dujarric (who in 2012 was the head of the UN News and Media Division) said that in fact the error in 2012 was been to allow Ja'afari to speak AT ALL on UNTV.

  He said the arrangement was that Ban and the Qatari PGA could speak, then the UNTV was supposed to go off. But UNTV showed the first part of Ja'afari's response before cutting off -- that, according to Dujarric, was the error.

  So the UN wishes it censored more, or censored more effectively. Click here for more on the UN's Censorship Alliance, opposed by the new Free UN Coalition for Access. Watch this site.


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