Press TV: Iranian Propaganda Station Off the Air Where it Belongs

The Iranian state propaganda organ Press TV obtained a license to broadcast via satellite from its London studios at the end of 2008, spreading its brand of “news” into the living rooms of millions of British people.

Quite how a station that has promoted Holocaust denial as well as a viciously anti-Israel agenda driven by its Iranian backers was able to get a UK license to broadcast in the first place is a mystery.

But since then, Press TV has found itself under investigation by Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, on multiple occasions. This included reporting and commentary on Israel from star presenters Lauren Booth and George Galloway.

Press TV also came under Ofcom’s spotlight following a complaint that it had breached its duty to be impartial and accurate in covering the Iranian regime’s attempts to crush dissent following the 2009 elections and more recently as the station was punished for broadcasting an interview with Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari obtained by way of torture. Bahari was arrested in Iran covering the country’s 2009 post-election protests. The station also displayed a penchant for running stories that no credible media outlet would touch.

All of this has culminated in Ofcom revoking Press TV’s license to broadcast in the UK, ostensibly for breaching UK broadcasting rules by running its editorial oversight from Tehran. As The Guardian reports:

“Ofcom has decided to revoke the licence held by Press TV Limited with immediate effect,” the media regulator said in a statement.

Ofcom wrote a letter to Press TV in November highlighting the issue and offered a choice of two remedies.

The first was to switch editorial control for Press TV’s programming to the UK, the second to transfer the broadcasting licence to Iran.

“Broadcasting rules require that a licence is held by the person who is in general control of the TV service: that is, the person that chooses the programmes to be shown in the service and organises the programme schedule,” Ofcom said.

“Ofcom gave Press TV the opportunity to apply to have its operations in Tehran correctly licensed by Ofcom and Ofcom offered to assist it to do so,” said the regulator.

Ofcom said Press TV failed to respond to or implement either of these two options.

“Press TV was given the opportunity to make representations on Ofcom’s ‘minded to revoke’ letter,” the regulator said. “Press TV has failed to make the necessary application and Ofcom has therefore revoked Press TV’s licence to broadcast in the UK.”

While Press TV will still be available online, this is undoubtedly a big blow to the station’s reach. Instead of sharing a broadcasting platform with the likes of Sky News, CNN and the BBC, Press TV has been relegated back to the fringes where it belongs.