Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Qatar World Cup accused of imposing chilling restrictions on media

Qatar World Cup accused of imposing chilling restrictions on media

Qatar World Cup accused of imposing chilling restrictions on media

International television crews in Qatar for the Fifa World Cup could be banned from interviewing people in their own homes as part of sweeping reporting restrictions that could have a "severe chilling effect" on media coverage.

Broadcasters, such as the BBC and ITV, will effectively be barred from filming at accommodation sites, such as those housing migrant workers, under the terms of filming permits issued by the Qatari government.

According to the terms, recording at government buildings, universities, places of worship and hospitals is also prohibited, along with filming at residential properties and private businesses.

The restrictions are within a list of conditions that outlets must agree to when applying for a filming permit from the Qatari authorities to "capture photography and videography of the most popular locations around the country". They also apply to photographers but do not explicitly refer to print journalists who do not film their interviews.

The rules do not prohibit reports on specific subjects, but restricting where crews can film - "including but not limited to houses, apartment complexes, accommodation sites" - is likely to make it difficult for them to investigate reported abuses, such as the mistreatment of migrant workers, or to conduct interviews on subjects people may be reluctant to discuss in public, such as LGBTQ+ rights.

Last night, Qatar's supreme committee denied imposing "chilling" restrictions on media freedoms and said "several regional and international media outlets are based in Qatar, and thousands of journalists report from Qatar freely without interference each year."

It said it had updated an earlier version of its film permit application terms that appeared on its website to relax the rules for broadcasters attending the World Cup, including removing a rule that said they must ''acknowledge and agree" they will not produce reports that may be "inappropriate or offensive to the Qatari culture, Islamic principles".

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