Press TV loses key guests

Award-winning radio presenter Nick Ferrari has admitted that his decision to join the Iranian state-backed 24-hour television station Press TV “was one of the dimmest career decisions of my life”.

Mr Ferrari was one of a number of British journalists who presented programmes on the channel — until last week, when he quit in protest at the Iranian government’s response to demonstrations against its general election result.

The LBC morning show presenter compered last year’s 60th anniversary tribute to Israel in Trafalgar Square.

Mr Ferrari, who has presented a weekly programme since the channel started last December, said this week: “I joined the station because I bought the line that Iran was going to move to diplomacy, Mousavi would win the election and with Obama’s initiative it would all lead to better relations with the West. But now I see it as one of the dimmest career decisions I’ve ever made.

“I was increasingly uncomfortable there. I refused to do Middle East stories almost from the word go. I suppose I should not have gone there in the first place.”

Mr Ferrari, a former news executive on the Sun and at Sky News, said he had never been put under any pressure to take any particular line.
“What was impossible for me was having conversations with my listeners on LBC. I was not being fair to them by accepting the money from Press TV,” he added.

“I was very critical of the election and it is very difficult to do that if you’re in the pay of the station.”

Some of the station’s regular guests, including former New Statesman political editor Martin Bright and Iain Dale, a leading political blogger, have said they will no longer appear on Press TV, while the Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust have consistently declined invitations.

The CST’s Mark Gardner said: “The widespread availability of Press TV marks a significant shift in the mass promotion of open anti-Israel bias and extremism here in Britain and has the potential to incite antisemitism.

“In particular, we note that Press TV’s website includes Holocaust denial. The CST has repeatedly declined Press TV’s offers to appear on the channel, explaining that it would be wrong for us to do so for as long as the Iranian regime sponsors antisemitic terrorism, promotes Holocaust denial and threatens the world’s sole Jewish state with nuclear destruction.”

Last updated: 12:55pm, July 9 2009