International TV crews in Qatar for FIFA world Cup They could be prevented from interviewing people in their homes as part of blanket coverage restrictions that could have a “severely scary effect” on media coverage.
Broadcasters, such as the BBC and ITV, will be effectively prohibited from filming at accommodation sites, such as those that house migrant workers, under the terms of filming permits issued by the Qatari government.
According to the provisions, it is also prohibited to record in government buildings, universities, houses of worship and hospitals, as well as photographing in residential real estate and private companies.
The restrictions are among the list of conditions that media outlets must agree to when applying for a filming permit from the Qatari authorities “to take photographs and shoot video of the most famous locations throughout the country.” It also applies to photographers but does not explicitly refer to print journalists who do not photograph their interviews.
The rules don’t prohibit reporting on specific subjects, but restricting where camera crews can film – “including but not limited to homes, apartment complexes, and residence sites” – is likely to make it more difficult for them to investigate reported abuse, such as abuse Migrant workers, or giving interviews about topics that people may be reluctant to discuss publicly, such as LGBT rights.
Last night, Qatar’s Supreme Committee denied imposing “appalling” restrictions on media freedoms, and said that “many regional and international media outlets are based in Qatar, and thousands of journalists from Qatar report freely without interference every year.”
It said it had updated an earlier version of the film’s permit application conditions that appeared on its website to loosen rules for broadcasters attending the World Cup, including removing the rule that they must “acknowledgment and agree” that they will not report that they may be “unfair”. appropriate or offensive to Qatari culture and Islamic principles.
But while the newer rules state that filming is permitted throughout Qatar, they still impose strict restrictions, including by applying for a permit, broadcasters agree not to “take a movie/shoot in excluded locations.” Places where photography is not permitted are “residential properties, private companies and industrial zones” or government, educational, health and religious buildings.
The rules also state that broadcasters must “respect the privacy of individuals” and not photograph them or their property without “prior express consent”.
FIFA said it was “working with the Supreme Committee and relevant organizations in Qatar to ensure the best possible working conditions for the media attending the tournament, as well as ensuring that broadcasters continue to cover freely without any restrictions.”
A spokesperson said it would be “important to clarify that filming on private property in any country remains subject to the consent of the property owner/operator”. He did not comment on why the terms included a complete ban on filming on private property.
Journalists have previously been detained in Qatar for covering issues that authorities deemed controversial. In 2015, a group of BBC reporters arrested in Doha and spent two nights in prison while investigating the housing conditions of migrant workers. Last November, two Norwegian journalists were investigating the conditions of migrant workers working in World Cup stadiums Arrested and detained for 36 hours while trying to leave the country.
James Lynch, of the London-based human rights group FairSquare, said the rules were a “very broad set of restrictions” that would make it difficult for television crews to follow non-football stories. He said: “It would be very difficult to fully comply with these conditions, if filming near private or government property would violate the terms of the permit.
This is likely to have a severely chilling effect on freedom of expression. How many organizations will authorize reporting of social issues in Qatar if doing so puts them at risk of ending up in court? “
Restrictions present an ethical dilemma for broadcasters.
The BBC ITV’s strict editorial guidelines promote integrity and are designed to protect against undue influence, including from governments. The BBC’s guidelines, which apply to all content, say broadcasts should not unduly offend, but rather stress the importance of freedom of expression.
Jemima Steinfeld, editor-in-chief at Index on Censorship, said the film’s permit conditions were “a specific cause for concern” and appeared to be “intentionally vague” so that broadcasters “err on the side of caution”.
Her gut feeling, she said, was that she felt they shouldn’t agree to such terms but said it was “very difficult terrain” to navigate. “The question is whether there are stories they can still do in the areas of that convention, and is it more important that they write those stories?” She said. “If the BBC is basically pushed into a situation where all they can cover is its glory, that would be a bad outcome.”
Qatar is an Islamic country with an authoritarian regime. Insults, public displays of affection, and immodest clothing are seen as offensive. Homosexual behavior is illegal. Posting material that appears to be insulting, defamatory or culturally insensitive can also be considered an offence, according to UK government travel advice.
In recent months, Qatar appears to have softened its stance on several issues in an effort to convince visitors that it is safe and tolerant. They allow alcohol to be sold in stadiums, for example, and she said that Gay lovers will be able to show affection during the World Cup. Nor has it relaxed the rules restricting freedom of expression, which include a law banning the publication of “fake news” on the Internet.
The BBC did not say whether it agreed or opposed the film’s permitting rules. A spokeswoman said she had a “proven record of addressing topical issues as part of our coverage”. This World Cup will not be different.”
ITV said its news and current affairs team had conducted “extensive reporting on the decision to award the tournament to Qatar and the questions surrounding the host country’s human rights record and will continue to do so”.
“Our press will be strongly independent. A spokesperson said coverage of the ITV World Cup will focus on football, but will not shy away from off-field controversy.”
This story has been updated to reflect the response received from the Qatari authorities