SBS has admitted a July 10 story “erroneously” implied Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened military action in response to increased uranium enrichment by Iran.
The story was the subject of a complaint by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), who said television reporter Hannah Sinclair’s story breached the broadcaster’s Code of Practice by inaccurately stating that “regional foes – like the Israeli Prime Minister – have issued military threats” towards Tehran.
Sinclair’s statement was followed by footage of Netanyahu standing in front of an F35 fighter jet saying, “Iran should remember that these planes can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran, and certainly Syria”.
In reality, Netanyahu was touring the Nevatim airbase, and was responding to recent threats by Iranian officials to destroy Israel.
“Recently, Iran has been threatening the destruction of Israel. It would do well to remember that these planes can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and certainly Syria,” Netanyahu said.
AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein called the SBS story “a gross misrepresentation of the context” of the remarks.
“The segment created a direct link that was clearly not justified by the context or the evidence,” he said.
SBS ombudsman Sally Begbie acknowledged that the use of “only the last sentence of the clip, removing the essential information that Iran recently has been threatening Israel’s destruction” had “changed the context of the Prime Minister’s comment to erroneously imply that the military threat came from Israel and not Iran”.
She said SBS director of news and current affairs Jim Carroll “has reminded his staff of the need to ensure accuracy is maintained even when editing material to fit tight time requirements”.
“Such errors in the production process are rare and that this has caused his news team to reflect on their professional practices,” she told AIJAC.
Commending SBS for their “professional response”, Rubenstein said, “While we welcome SBS’s assurance that it has counselled staff to pay closer attention to the details, of course, in many ways the damage is done and viewers have been left with the false impression that Israel’s only proposal for dealing with Iran’s breaches of the nuclear deal is a military strike.”