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Watch: Freedom of Speech Suppressed Live on PA TV

Palestinian Authority TV mutes broadcast 4 times when citizens criticize PA leaders.
By PMW
First Publish: 9/20/2012, 8:41 PM

During a live broadcast monitored and translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Palestinian Authority TV chose to censor PA citizens several times when they openly criticized the PA leadership. PMW has documented that PA TV is directly controlled by Chairman Abbas' office and serves as a mouthpiece for the government. 

PMW's Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik reported that a PA TV talk show invited Palestinians to speak during a live broadcast from Tulkarem, but when they criticized Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad and PA government ministers, the government-controlled TV station decided to silence the protests by muting the sound.

Neither the PA TV moderator nor the participants were aware that their words were being censored as they continued their discussions in front of the camera.

One speaker was silenced when he addressed Abbas and Fayyad, asking where they were while Palestinians were facing increased prices and unemployment. His voice was muted from the broadcast four times while he spoke. While PA TV did not want his message heard, the audience can be seen applauding him.

Later, a woman addressed Abbas, asking him to explain why her two daughters, both with university degrees, were unable to find jobs. PA TV did not let her continue, but censored the rest of her comments.

When someone in the audience exposed the fact that PA TV was muting the criticism in the broadcast, the moderator announced "a short break with the director" of the program, promising to return. However, he only returned to inform the audience that PA TV "wanted to continue the program, but it's clear we can't."

And thus the "Palestinian Spring" unfolds live on PA TV.

The following is the transcript of the relevant parts of the PA TV broadcast:

PA TV host: "We return to you, sir. What did you want to say?"

Razi in studio audience: "President Abbas, may Allah protect him, and Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad: Where are you when prices keep rising? Where are you when there is unemployment? Where are your ministers, Dr. Salam? They should see the people in the streets. What are we, cows and donkeys? The Palestinian people has begun to speak..."

[Sound is muted for half a minute while Razi continues speaking and crowd is cheering.]

Razi: "This is despicable..."

Host: "The Jews have failed too."

Razi: "Whenever prices go up, you say: 'The Jews.'"

Host: "Sir, thank you for..."

[Sound is muted]

Host: "Don't say such things."

Razi: "So arrest me..."

Host: "I won't arrest you, but why fight..."

[Sound is muted]

Host: "I gave you a chance [to speak]. Let others speak."

[...]

Woman in audience: "I'm the mother of the Martyrs Muhammad and Mahdi Sa'ade. [Applause.] I wish that Mahmoud Abbas would explain... One day, as he sleeps on his pillow, he will feel for the Martyrs' mothers, and that's it. I have two daughters who graduated university, but they still don't have jobs. If someone had a son..."

[Sound is muted]

[...]

Man in audience: "I've been told on the phone that you keep cutting off the sound."

Host: "Who did I cut off now? ... I won't let you talk."

Man in audience: "Don't cut off the broadcast, you talk about the youth. We're the youth."

Host: "If you don't think that this is a live broadcast, don't be on the program. We have made this program 40 minutes longer so that you could participate, and now I'll let everyone participate."

[...]

"Now I'll take a short break with the director and we'll be back with you."

[Host returns after a few minutes]

"We had wanted to continue the program, but it's clear we can't."

[Program abruptly ends.]

[PA TV (Fatah), Sept. 6, 2012]