Way to go, Mindy Alter – power to the people! Vision TV’s CEO Bill Roberts has bowed to the pressure of outraged non-Islamists (and The National Post’s tenacious Stewart Bell, whose investigations he clearly has not enjoyed), and has issued a full mea culpa regarding the Saturday afternoon show “Dil Dil Pakistan” and its airing of lectures by the fanatical Dr. Israr Ahmad. From today’s National Post, “VisionTV to strike standards task force
Stewart Bell National Post
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 – TORONTO – VisionTV said yesterday a producer would apologize on the air “at the earliest opportunity” for broadcasting lectures by a Pakistani fundamentalist who preaches global jihad and the “extermination” of Jews.
In addition to banning further broadcasts of Lahore-based hardliner Israr Ahmad, the Canadian multi-faith channel announced it would set up a task force to review its standards and procedures in the wake of the controversy.
“We have taken clear steps to ensure that Mr. Ahmad will not appear on VisionTV again,” president and CEO Bill Roberts said in a statement. “VisionTV profoundly regrets any offence that resulted from Mr. Ahmad’s appearances on our network.”
The announcement came after the National Post reported that VisionTV had broadcast two lectures by Mr. Ahmad, whose writings compare Jews to “parasites,” describe the Holocaust as “divine punishment” and claim that Jews control the world through a secret banking conspiracy.
While VisionTV did not broadcast Mr. Ahmad’s derogatory comments about Jews, or his theories of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, Mr. Roberts said the decision about whether to allow him on Canadian airwaves should have perhaps taken those views into account.
“Clearly we live in a world where it would be insane to put [Holocaust denier] Ernst Zundel on the air to do the weather,” Mr. Roberts said in an interview yesterday.
“And it’s crazy to put an imam on the air to read the Koran or do something else that’s benign when off-air he is a violent, racist, bad person. So, the whole broadcasting system is not there yet, but I think we need to begin to think about how do we wrestle with that.”
In a July 14 broadcast on VisionTV, Mr. Ahmad said Muslims had to either fight jihad or finance it. Following complaints, VisionTV said it regretted airing the show, but then broadcast another of Mr. Ahmad’s lectures on July 21. Both hour-long lectures were featured on a show called Dil Dil Pakistan.
The broadcasts resulted from lapses of internal procedures, Mr. Roberts explained in an interview. While the station’s shows are pre-screened, he said the producer had been distracted by family matters.
“The story that I heard from this guy, the producer, is that usually he would have done the character checks and screened the material, et cetera, but his daughter was getting married; he was very distracted,” Mr. Roberts said.
The producer of Dil Dil Pakistan is Arshad Usmani, firstname.lastname@example.org. Sounds like Mr. Roberts is throwing him under the bus here – but c’mon, Roberts, management is ultimately responsible for what goes on the air of YOUR station!
As for Saturday’s broadcast, Mr. Roberts said, “what I think has happened on the weekend was an embarrassing failure of process with regard to how we replace shows here at VisionTV. So the show was pulled and another show was put in its place, but it ended up being a show that also included him [Mr. Ahmad].”
A medical doctor by training, Mr. Ahmad is the leader of Tanzeem-e Islami, which wants to turn Pakistan into a fundamentalist Islamic state and a launching pad for the global domination of Islam.
His followers include Qayyum Abdul Jamal, who was arrested last summer for allegedly belonging to a Canadian terrorist group accused of plotting truck bombings in downtown Toronto.
Canadian Jewish organizations said they were pleased with yesterday’s announcement.
Canadian Jewish Congress spokesman Len Rudner called it “extremely positive and extremely responsible.
“I think their decision to review their policies and practices regarding what is and is not acceptable to VisionTV is also a very positive development, especially in light of the fact that Vision probably has one of the best codes of any broadcaster.”
B’nai Brith Canada also welcomed the move, but said it would proceed with a complaint to Canada’s broadcast regulatory agency. VisionTV has asked both organizations to participate in the task force it is setting up.
The task force will include VisionTV board members, management staff and stakeholders in the faith community, Mr. Roberts said, adding the group would explore whether the channel’s code of ethics needs to be updated.
So, has Mr. Roberts learned a lesson here about the inherent flaw in the religion of the multi-cult? My read on the situation is that, heading into the weekend, he hated the conservatives at the National Post far more than he hated Jihadists calling for the destruction of Jews, Christians and the West. But after taking heat from all sides for nearly a week, he realized the conservatives were right on this one, and he couldn’t justify the defense of his Saturday afternoon schedule.
Now – what are ya gonna do about “Let the Qu’ran Speak”, Roberts?