Press TV blames Israel and British royals for Ofcom problems

By Jessica Elgot, October 18, 2011
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Press TV  could lose its licence for broadcasting the forced confession of journalist Maziar Bahari, while he was detained by the Iranians

Press TV could lose its licence for broadcasting the forced confession of journalist Maziar Bahari, while he was detained by the Iranians

The Iranian-backed TV channel, Press TV , has launched a bizarre series of tirades over threats to its broadcasting licence, railing against “members of the royal family and government” for lobbying Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog .

Press TV reported that it was to be taken off air in the UK next week, which has not been confirmed by Ofcom.

But Ofcom is currently considering whether to revoke the licence of the broadcaster, after finding that the station broke broadcasting rules by showing an interview with Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, while he was detained in Iran in 2009, which Mr Bahari later said was a forced, scripted confession, under threat of execution.

Ofcom spokesman Rhys Hurd told the Associated Press that no decision had been made yet. But when the ruling against the channel was made in May, the regulator made it clear that punishment could include a ban on broadcasting. Press TV is believed to be allowed to submit a final appeal.

In a statement posted on its website, the channel claimed: “The British media regulator's decision is considered to be an abuse of the UK media law and the result of mounting pressure on the organisation by certain members of the royal family and government.”

Another statement says: “A quick glance at the senior decision makers at Ofcom reveals that the regulator is mostly made up of former Channel 4 and BBC executives, some of whom are well-linked to and influenced by powerful pro-Israeli politicians and US sympathisers.”

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone and former MP George Galloway have all regularly featured on Press TV. In November 2010, Ofcom ruled that Mr Galloway repeatedly breached broadcasting standards on impartiality during a series of Press TV programmes in which he described Israel as “a terrorist gangster state” and a “miscreant, law breaking rogue, war launching, occupying state.”

Ofcom also found that Mr Corbyn did not show due impartiality when he appeared on the Iranian-backed channel as a guest on Mr Galloway’s weekly Comment show.

Last updated: 3:58pm, October 18 2011