Saturday, 15 October 2011

Why is Ofcom banning Press TV?

It's a ominous sign: state broadcasting regulator Ofcom has revoked Iranian Press TV's broadcast licence, meaning it will no longer be broadcast on the Sky platform. This is supposedly over a breach of the rules incurred by an interview of an American journalist being detained in Iran, but given the leaked position of the UK Foreign Office, that seems a pretext.

Somewhere buried in the Wikileaks bundle is found an interesting statement from a FCO wonk to a US counterpart. From the Guardian:
While Ofcom will insist that it came under no pressure from ministers, according to the WikiLeaks cables, the Foreign Office told an American diplomat in 2010 that the government was"exploring ways to limit the operations of … Press TV".

At the time, the department warned the US that: "UK law sets a very high standard for denying licences to broadcasters. Licences can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a licence would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law. Currently neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months a case may be able to be made on the second criterion."

This is coming at the same time as a number of other moves by the hawks to attack Iran, most notably the ludicrous conspiracy theory of Iran trying to hire a Mexican drug gang to blow up a Saudi diplomat. If plans to strike Iran are well-underway, you can imagine that the Foreign Office would not want us to see the other side of the story, so better, in true, sneaky 'Perfidious Albion' style, to quietly scuttle Press TV before the uranium-tipped missiles start slamming into orphanages.

12 comments:

banned said...

"If plans to strike Iran are well-underway, you can imagine that the Foreign Office would not want us to see the other side of the story"

I had been wondering about what was the point in repressing Irans English language service. That would seem to explain it.

Anonymous said...

"It's a ominous sign: state broadcasting regulator Ofcom has revoked Iranian Press TV's broadcast licence, meaning it will no longer be broadcast on the Sky platform. "

The only problem being that this hasn't happened at all. Ofcom say they haven't even reached a decision yet on how to punish Press TV.

Trooper Thompson said...

Anon,

if you read the linked Guardian article you will find:

"When it made its ruling, the regulator indicated that the transgression was so grave that it was likely to impose either a heavy fine or the termination of Press TV's licence. ***Officials from the watchdog are now understood to have told the channel it has decided to pull it off the airwaves***. Press TV will be allowed to submit a final appeal, before Ofcom announces its final decision in the coming weeks"

This is the basis for what I wrote. If the Guardian is incorrect, then so am I.

Joe Spivey said...

I think you have rather ignored the fact that the channel broadcast an interview with somebody who said he was told what to say on camera (i.e. from a script) under duress.

It's disgusting journalistic practice, and Press TV's stupid claims on its website are baseless. If Sky News did acted the same as Press TV, the same - if not worse - punishments would be doled out. Chances are that Ofcom have exercised caution before to prevent an incident

Anonymous said...

It does not matter. You can watch Press TV by logging in to
livestation.com anyway.

Single acts of tyranny said...

Press TV is as much a mouthpiece for Iran (although one or two of the reports?) as RT is for Putin, BBC is for socialist international and Fox is for neocons.

That's no reason to ban it of course. It will be interesting to see what they do with BBC Farsi (I would guess no live reports, just the same script the main BBC news give, just read in Persian).

Trooper Thompson said...

@ Joe,

your faith in the authorities is touching, but I don't share it. Especially given the leak which shows the British government want to block Press TV. If that was the plan, then the interview looks like a mere pretext.

People who watch Press TV do so in the knowledge that it is broadcast from Iran and presumably toes the Iranian government line. As SAOT points out, this is no different than the BBC or RT. RT is very good on world news, but I doubt they are as candid with Russian news. The BBC is no more honest.

James Higham said...

Add to that Obama's drones and the scene is set.

Anonymous said...

Why is Ofcom banning Press TV ?

Why is the Iranian govt banning BBC Persian !!!!!
Why is the Iranian govt taking away the private property of Iranian citizens (satellite dishes)?
Why is the Iranian govt arresting relatives BBC Persian employees ?

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trooper Thompson said...

Anon,

I don't know, but if you watch Press TV, they might tell you.

Anonymous said...

The "pretext" statement seems to skip over the very real and heinous situation in which the journalist was interviewed, which has been corroborated by the man himself. A "pretext" it may be, but it is also a serious overreach of journalistic viability.

Press TV has not lost its licence, merely fined and asked to comply with precisely the same regulations that every other news operator in the UK does.

If they really wanted to stay on air, and force a more direct assault from the "establishment", it would be easy to comply with UK legal requirements, rather than blatantly lying and making themselves look ridiculous.

It is a shame, I appreciate different viewpoints and would prefer Press TV remain on air.

Trooper Thompson said...

Thanks for the update. I haven't been following the twists and turns of the story, and I hold no brief for Press TV.

My main concern remains the threat of war between Iran and some kind of 'coalition of the willing', and that has unfortunately not abated since October, rather the opposite.