Friday, December 17, 2004

CNN, BBC and Eurosport refuse to air ads for reward information on Ron Arad

Three major international networks – The BBC, CNN and Eurosport – are refusing to air ads of the “Born to be Free” foundation for the release of missing IAF navigator Ron Arad.

Last week, the state and the foundation formally issued a 10 million dollar reward leading to either the return of Arad, or confirmation as to his ultimate fate. The state took this step after having concluded that it has exhausted all other means at its disposal.

Uri Hen, the foundation director, told NRG Maariv, “We turned to CNN, BBC and Eurosport in a request to air fully-paid ads but they refused”.

According to Hen, the BBC did not explain its decision. CNN, however, sent a letter to the foundation stating that the network does not air ads about political issues. Eurosport, says Hen, said it was a religious and political issue.

“Even the Lebanese newspaper “A-Safir”, which has close contacts with Hezbollah quoted the campaign. Al-Jazeera interviewed us and the al-Quds publication, which is not a great lover of Israel to say the least, agreed to put up huge ads”, Hen added.

The Arab media did not hide behind political excuses. An Israeli pilot has been in captivity for 18 years and the campaign’s aim is to bring him home – there is absolutely nothing political about it”, he concluded.

Another foundation official defined the decision of the three networks as “purely anti-Semitic”. The foundation is currently examining the option of filing legal suit against the networks.

Last week, a special multi-lingual domain, has been set up, with full information regarding the prize. One of the languages is Farsi. The site has been advertised in major media outlets.

In addition to the Internet, a call center has been set up in Tel Aviv to process all incoming calls. The center has a London area number, to enable people from Iran to contact it. The center will operate 24 hours a day, and Persian speaking personnel will always be on duty.