Islam Channel to appeal Ofcom ruling
Monday, November 15 2010, 17:55 GMT
By Andrew Laughlin,

The Islam Channel is planning to appeal Ofcom's ruling that it broke broadcasting guidelines by airing programmes that condoned marital rape and violence against women.

Last week, the media regulator ruled that five programmes aired on the specialist religious channel between 2008 and 2009 were in breach of the broadcasting code.

The breaches included presenters advocating rape and violence against women, as well as describing females who wore perfume outside the home as "prostitutes".

The channel - which was fined 30,000 by Ofcom in 2007 for a series of breaches - was also rapped for airing overly one-sided coverage of international affairs and conflict in the Middle East.

Ofcom's investigation was launched in response to a report by thinktank the Quilliam Foundation, which alleged that the Islam Channel was guilty of consistently promoting extremist attitudes towards women.

However, the Islam Channel is preparing to appeal all five of Ofcom's rulings on grounds that the "media frenzy and sensationalist headlines" that greeted the Quilliam report in March meant it was "particularly difficult" for the regulator to make an objective judgement.

The broadcaster referred to the Quilliam Foundation as a "fundamentalist organisation whose corrosive techniques of misinformation" have earned the contempt of Muslim and non-Muslim groups.

In a statement, the broadcaster also claimed that it was "no stranger to attacks from those who wish to discredit and undermine those of influence in the Muslim community".

It added: "It is in fact the position of Islam Channel that we have a journalistic obligation to work against what is clearly a crude in-balance in reporting of this conflict - not least in recognition of the 'consensus viewpoint of the majority of our viewers' and it is our every intention to appeal this ruling."

Ofcom was so alarmed by the channel's broadcasting breaches that it has called the network's management in for a meeting to discuss best practice in compliance processes.

However, the Islam Channel argues that the media regulator has taken the offending comments out of context and misinterpreted what was actually being discussed.