St. Petersburg Times
Online: Iraq
Print story Subscribe to the Times


Networks struggle over use of video

©Associated Press
March 24, 2003

NEW YORK -- U.S. television networks spent hours Sunday weighing whether to air video footage of what appeared to be U.S. prisoners of war.

The images were picked up from Iraqi television by the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the Geneva Conventions make it illegal for prisoners to be pictured, adding that "television networks that carry such pictures are, I would say, doing something that's unfortunate."

That left network executives with agonizing decisions involving matters of taste and the question of whether they were letting the Pentagon influence their newsgathering decisions.

All of the networks said they would not show video of what was said to be an Iraqi morgue containing American bodies, saying the material was neither newsworthy nor appropriate for airing. However, CNN and NBC have aired a still image of bodies that could not be identified.

A snippet of the POW footage was shown on CBS, shortly after it was received from Al-Jazeera, while Rumsfeld was being interviewed on Face the Nation. The network held off from showing it again after the Pentagon asked for time to contact the families of the soldiers involved.

"I consider that a legitimate request and I don't have any qualms about agreeing to it. The issue of sensitivity to the families is valid," CBS News President Andrew Heyward said.

Print story Subscribe to the Times

Eyes on Iraq
Reports from a region in conflict
Today's coverage
  • Iraq: Marchers rally to support U.S. troops
  • Iraq: Churches turn to prayers amid war
  • Iraq: Reports: Hussein is likely still alive
  • Iraq: Iraq's oil industry will need postwar repairs
  • Iraq: Arabs heartened to see U.S. vulnerability on TV
  • Iraq: Missiles land in Turkey; no one hurt
  • Iraq: President: Treat our prisoners humanely
  • Iraq: U.S. presses POWs for information on chemical weapons
  • Iraq: Networks struggle over use of video
  • Iraq: Uniform at door breaks hearts of loved ones
  • Iraq: Mother says she saw her captive son on Iraqi TV
  • Iraq: British TV reporter believed dead
  • Iraq: Patriot missile shoots down British fighter jet, killing 2
  • Iraq: Prisoner of war regulations
  • Dispatch from the 101st: Soldiers feel shock, anger at one of their own
  • ighting terror: Copter crash kills 6
  • ighting terror: Operation Valiant Strike rounds up cache of weapons
  • World in brief: Turnout large in vote on Chechen constitution

    Related links
    Online journal

    Reports from a region in conflict

    World & Nation