Eteham, Iranian newspapers_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
LONDON – The Iranian regime’s English- language news channel Press TV, has
reacted angrily after it was taken off the air, accusing Britain’s media
watchdog of being subservient to the government and the monarchy.
the UK’s independent communications regulator and competition authority, revoked
Press TV’s license on Friday after it breached the Communications Act by
broadcasting from Tehran.
UK media watchdog fines Iran's Press TV
Ofcom said it had decided to revoke the license
with immediate effect. Press TV was removed on Friday evening from the Sky
satellite service that had hosted it.
Ofcom ruled that Press TV failed to
declare that Tehran rather than London was its editorial base.
presenters include anti-Israel activists former MP George Galloway, former
London mayor Ken Livingstone, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth and Yvonne
Ridley, a journalist kidnapped by the Taliban in 2001 and who subsequently
converted to Islam.
Tweeting on Friday, the Hezbollah-supporting Galloway
said: “Champions of liberty the British govt have now taken Press TV off
Referring to Ofcom as “the media arm of the royal family,” Press TV
responded by saying that there is every indication that Ofcom is “subservient to
the British government and the monarchy” and launched an attack on Britain’s
domestic and foreign policies.
The Iranian mouthpiece suggested that
revealing these issues in its news coverage had an impact on Ofcom’s
“It gets both its authority and funding from the British
Ofcom was created by an act of Parliament and gets most of
its funding from governmental grant-in-aid,” Press TV said.
claimed it had revealed close ties between the royal family and “UK-founded
monarchies in the Persian Gulf region, including the autocratic regimes in
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which have been oppressing their people for
“Press TV has also provided critical coverage of the extravagant
costs of Britain’s royal wedding at a time of great financial difficulty for
ordinary Britons,” the station said.
“The channel covered the 2011 unrest
in Britain and the heavy-handed police crackdown, drawing the resentment of
London’s ruling establishment,” it said, suggesting this might be part of the
decision to pull it off the air.
In November, Ofcom wrote to Press TV
setting out how it was breaching the Communications Act. It offered the channel
two choices: switch editorial control to the UK, or transfer the broadcasting
license to Iran.
“Broadcasting rules require that a license is held by
the person who is in general control of the TV service: that is, the person that
chooses the programs to be shown in the service and organizes the program
schedule,” Ofcom said.
“Ofcom gave Press TV the opportunity to apply to
have its operations in Tehran correctly licensed by Ofcom and offered to assist
it to do so,” the media regulator said.
The station failed to respond or
put into practice either of the two options, Ofcom said.
“Press TV was
given the opportunity to make representations on Ofcom’s ‘minded to revoke’
letter,” the regulator said on Friday. “Press TV has failed to make the
necessary application and Ofcom has therefore revoked its license to broadcast
in the UK.”
Vowing to do everything possible to make sure that its voice
“will definitely reach its audience in the UK,” Press TV said that Ofcom had
failed to grasp the reality of mass communication in the modern era and the
impossibility of containing the flow of information.
Last year the
Iranian news channel was fined £100,000 by Ofcom for airing an interview with
Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian Newsweek journalist incarcerated by the
The interview had been conducted under
Press TV failed to meet the January 2011 deadline to pay the
Galloway has been repeatedly criticized by Ofcom. In 2010, he was
criticized for breaching impartiality rules.
Ofcom investigated after it
had received complaints that Galloway’s show was biased against
Also in 2010, it ruled that a Press TV program on the Gaza
flotilla raid presented by Booth had breached broadcasting code rules on
The program – which began with a pro-Palestinian song and
anti-Israel images, featured recorded and live interviews with similar views and
descriptions of the Israel Navy raid as “barbaric” and a “massacre” – was ruled
to be one-sided and failing to offer alternative views.
In 2008, Press TV
was accused of promoting Holocaust denial after an article appeared on its
website, titled “The Walls of Auschwitz,” claiming that the massacre of Jewish
people during the Holocaust was “scientifically impossible.”
month, Press TV’s chief executive, Mohammad Sarafraz, said Ofcom was part of “a
desperate effort to silence an alternative voice in the UK.”
evident that the government’s campaign against Press TV has its roots in the
channel’s extensive coverage of the multiple crises created by London’s domestic
and foreign policies,” he said.