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UK Government Threatens to Close Down Iranian Press TV

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Press TV
March 27, 2012

Two months after revoking Press TV’s license in the UK, the British government’s media tool, Ofcom, has forced the channel to pay a 100,000-pound fine, threatening to confiscate Press TV Ltd.’s properties in London, if it does not make the payment.

Ofcom has also threatened to wind up Press TV’s offices in London upon a seven-day delay in paying the installments. This comes despite Britain’s illegal financial sanctions against Iranian banks. The sanctions are not mandated by the UN and are against international law.

Moreover, Britain has used the illegal sanctions to also close several Press TV bank accounts in the UK. Britain’s so-called media regulatory body Ofcom says the channel has been fined for airing a 10-second news clip of now fugitive Iranian journalist, Maziar Bahari.

On July 1, 2009, Press TV reported on an armed attack on a Basij base in the Iranian capital. The report included a 10-second clip of an interview conducted with Iranian-born Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari while he was in prison.

Bahari said in the interview that “on Monday, June 15, [2009], I sent a report about the attack against the base, a military base of Basij to Channel 4 News.”

Major state-sponsored British media outlets such as the British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC) and Channel 4 had aired the manipulated footage that showed what appeared to be an incident of unrest near Tehran’s Azadi Square, during which a number of Basij forces were shown shooting at what was claimed by the British media to be ‘peaceful protesters’ although it was evidently not clear who and what the targets were.

Press TV later aired a more detailed version of the same report that clearly showed images of rioters attacking a Basij military base with stones and petrol bombs, while the guards were making great efforts to defuse the situation and prevent assailants from accessing the base’s arms cache.

The extended video clearly showed that the earlier reporting of the state-run BBC and Channel 4 had been biased and distorted as they deliberately failed to show attacks by rioters on the military base which prompted the guards at the military base to react.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Bahari was released on bail on October 20, 2009 and fled the country. He later claimed that Press TV conducted and filmed the interview in prison without his consent and that his participation in the interview was under duress. He later launched a complaint against the Iranian broadcaster.

Mr. Bahari did not file his complaint until December 21, 2009, some 166 days after the broadcast. This was in violation of Ofcom’s complaints procedure requiring all complaints “be submitted within 20 working days of the broadcast of the program.”

Ofcom accepted the complaint and ruled that the airing of the clip by the Iranian broadcaster breached the regulator’s rules.

In January, Ofcom revoked Press TV Ltd’s license citing administrative reasons for the largely-criticized decision. Ofcom said Press TV Limited did not control the channel’s broadcast in the UK and that is why its license was revoked.

Press TV argued in a letter to Ofcom that if the channel’s London offices did not control the broadcast, why were they fined and if they controlled the broadcast, why was the license revoked. Ofcom never replied to Press TV’s letter, and instead took the channel of the air.

Press TV has been regarded as a critical voice in the UK. Its coverage of the extravagant Royal wedding, the 2011 unrest and London’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drew anger from the British government.

Wikileaks cables show British Foreign Office officials and US diplomats have discussed ways of limiting Press TV’s media activities.

This article was posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 2:49 am

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