Press TV could have its licence revoked

By Jessica Elgot, October 19, 2011
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Censured: MP Jeremy Corbyn

Censured: MP Jeremy Corbyn

The Iranian-backed channel, Press TV, has launched a series of bizarre 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 Ofcom has not confirmed.

Ofcom is in fact still considering whether to revoke Press TV's licence, after finding in May that it had broken broadcasting rules by showing a 2009 interview with Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, detained by the Iranians, which Mr Bahari later said was a forced, scripted confession, under threat of execution.

Ofcom spokesman Rhys Hurd said that no decision had yet been made. But in May, when Ofcom ruled against the channel, it was made clear that punishment could include a ban on broadcasting. Press TV is likely to be allowed to appeal if it is banned.

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."

It added: "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, London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone and former MP George Galloway have all made regular appearances.

Ofcom has ruled that both Mr Galloway and Mr Corbyn have breached broadcasting rules on impartiality. Mr Galloway has described Israel as a "terrorist gangster state" and a "miscreant, law-breaking rogue, war-launching, occupying state." Mr Corbyn breached the rules when he appeared on Mr Galloway's weekly Comment show.

Last updated: 12:00pm, October 19 2011