Ofcom Revokes Press TV License

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In a statement issued by media regulator, Ofcom has announced that Press TV, Iran's English-language channel, will no longer be aired on BSkyB because its license has been revoked.

“Ofcom has decided to revoke the licence held by Press TV Limited with immediate effect,” read the statement.

According to Ofcom, they wrote to Press TV in November, expressing their concern over the fact that editorial control of the channel is based in Tehran and not London. This is a breach of the Communications Act. Ofcom reports that it gave the channel two choices: to switch control to the UK or transfer the license, but the channel failed to respond.

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

For those at Press TV, however, it appears that Ofcom is revoking the license on a technicality, hiding the true reasons behind the cessation of the broadcasts. One reason could be that the channel has been “unwilling and unable” to pay the £100,000 fine issued by Ofcom last year. Press TV aired an interview of imprisoned Newsweek journalist, Maziar Bahari, under duress. The fine was due this January.

“He claims he has been interviewed under duress. Press TV has strongly rejected that,” says Hamid Emadi, Press TV's newsroom director. Emadi continued on to say that they will try and continue broadcast in the UK. “The British government and Ofcom will not be able to silence Press TV's voice in the UK. We will exhaust all possibilities and will try to stay in the UK as an active media player and an alternative voice.”

Chief executive of the channel, Mohammad Sarafraz suggests that the removal of the channel is an attempt to “silence an alternative voice in the UK.” According to Sarafraz: “It is evident that the British 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.”

Sarafraz is referring to the fact that Press TV has aired Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been suggested that the removal of Press TV is part of the UK's retaliation for the protesters that stormed the British embassy in Tehran. The British government shut down Iran's embassy in London, shortly after the incident.

Former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and Press TV presenter, George Galloway, tweeted: “Champions of liberty the British govt have now taken Press TV off Sky. Follow us at Press TV and other platforms.”

Galloway, who had once been sanctioned for anti-Israeli bias, is no doubt joining forces with the broadcaster to “ do everything possible to make sure that its voice will definitely reach its audience in the UK.”
 
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