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Czech Republic: Interpreter confirms TV Prima manipulated footage of refugee interview

15.2.2016 20:35
Bohumil Roub, the Prima TV reporter who has produced controversial pieces on refugees and Romani people in the Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Prima TV).
Bohumil Roub, the Prima TV reporter who has produced controversial pieces on refugees and Romani people in the Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Prima TV).

A new development has arisen in the scandal around the manipulative reporting by the Prima television station about Christian refugees from Iraq who came to the Czech Republic several weeks ago with the aid of the Generation 21 Foundation. A translator hired by Prima whose work was used during a second report broadcast on Saturday, one that the station believed would disprove the allegations of manipulation, has now revealed details that show Prima did indeed manipulate its initial reporting and suppressed important information in its follow-up reporting.

"I did my job at TV Prima as part of checking the interpretation done in the field, which means I translated the recording of what the interpreter and the refugee being interviewed said. From that translation, it is clear that the refugee emphasized once or twice that he had been actually concerned mainly about what the quality of the housing might be before settling in and participating in normal life. Specifically, he said the following:  'housing that looks or might look like a repainted cowshed or barn would not be suitable, and in such a case they would certainly move away...'. Prima even expressly asked me whether that statement was meant conditionally, or whether it was a description of the actual state of affairs, and I told them it was a general remark intended to be understood as a conditional statement. The interpreter, during the interview, emphasizes the question of housing several times in his interpretation, even when the refugee does not mention it. Prima TV also asked me about that, and I confirmed that while the interpreter essentially embellished a bit, he nonetheless did interpret well within the framework of the context," Adam Homsi, an interpreter involved in producing the material broadcast on Saturday, said in a statement for the Czech Government's Hate Free Culture initiative.

Prima had claimed in its initial reporting that the refugee's remarks pertained to the actual apartments that had been offered to the refugees by the town of Jihlava. "The Jihlava town hall has offered the Iraqis two-bedroom apartments in the center of town, but they don't like them at all. Only they and the people taking care of them were able to see the apartments," is the literal transcription of what reporter Bohumil Roub says in his initial report.

That is then followed by a statement made by Dana Fiedlerová, the director of the Center for Multicultural Education, who is working with the refugees:  "Those are beautiful apartments, I would love to live there myself." Immediately after those two statements about the Jihlava apartments, Iraqi refugee George Batto is shown speaking in Arabic and he is interpreted into Czech as saying the following:  "We would like to remain here and later on to even work, but the most important thing for us is housing. We would rather return to Iraq than live in a repainted cowshed."

What's more, Prima accompanied Batto's words with video footage of the apartment buildings at issue. In its original reporting, therefore, Prima insinuates that the refugee was comparing the actual apartments they were offered to a repainted cowshed.

Today's statement by interpreter Adam Homsi, however, clearly confirms that George Batto was just answering a hypothetical question and used the conditional in his answer. It could not, therefore, have been a description of the apartments actually offered to the refugees by the town of Jihlava.

The television station did not inform its viewers of that fact in its follow-up report on the issue broadcast on Saturday. "New facts about this are turning up each day, doubts about the correctness of the reporting and the conclusion that it was seriously manipulated are intensifying every day," Hate Free Culture reported on its website.

News server Lidovky.cz reports that the matter will now be reviewed by the Council on Radio and Television Broadcasting (RRTV). "The Council will review this at its next meeting," Ivan Krejčí, chair of RRTV, told Lidovky.cz, "we just received a complaint and an analysis will be performed of the accuracy of the translation, as well as an assessment of whether this was just a matter of imprecision, if any, or misconduct of a more serious nature."

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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manipulace, Prima TV, refugee, television



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