Holocaust deniers: we’ll take your ads please!

How would you react if, on your way to work, you were confronted by a series of adverts from David Irving, telling you to look at his website for ‘The Truth’, and urging you to find out what is really happening in the world from the only truly reliable source: himself.

You’d — at the very least — wonder why Transport for London considered it appropriate to accept adverts from an antisemitic propagandist. Not, of course, that a public body such as TfL would ever accept such advertising.

But that’s, to all intents and purposes, what TfL has now done.
If you’re in London, you’ll have seen the adverts for Press TV which have sprung up everywhere in the past few days. Manchester has also had them:

Press TV. Giving a voice to the voiceless. 24/7. News. Truth. The World is changing. People are changing. Opinions are changing. The News is changing. Why do you still watch the same tired news channel? GET THE FULL STORY AT PRESS TV.

Press TV is, of course, the propaganda TV station of the Iranian government. In itself, that might not be reason enough to refuse its adverts — although you’d struggle to find any fair minded person who did not recoil from accepting ads from a country whose (as I write) president wants to wipe Israel off the map.

But ignore who funds it, and look at how Press TV actually behaves. And that’s clear: as a Holocaust denying, racial hatred inciting, Islamist-boosting, conspiracy theory peddling propaganda outfit.

The channel’s website, for instance, has a piece by holocaust denier Nicolas Kollerstrom, arguing that “the alleged massacre of Jewish people by gassing during World War II was scientifically impossible”. Press TV then endorses the piece thus: “The distinguished academic was dismissed on April 22, 2008 without any explanation and a Holocaust conference held on 16-18 May in Berlin refused his article and warned that he would be arrested if he attended the conference and presented his essay. The West punishes people for their scientific research on Holocaust but the same western countries allow insults to prophets and religious beliefs…”

When I first saw the ads, I gave TfL the benefit of the doubt; maybe they simply didn’t know the nature of Press TV. So I supplied Peter Hendy, London’s transport Commissioner, with chapter and verse.
There’s now no doubt about where TfL stands. Mr Hendy’s spokesman replied to me thus: “All adverts submitted for use on London’s transport network are considered in relation to TfL’s advertising guidelines which these particular advertisements comply with. The regulation of Press TV’s broadcasts is a matter for Ofcom, the independent organisation which regulates the UK’s broadcast industry.”
In other words: the guidelines say the ads are fine, so what are you bothered about?

Maybe, Mr Hendy, it’s not the ads that are fine but your guidelines that are wrong.

What’s clear is that, even after being made aware of the character of Press TV, Mr Hendy is perfectly content to accept its adverts.
If I were David Irving, I’d start designing my ads right away.

    Last updated: 5:30pm, June 18 2009