Iran's UK mouthpiece, Press TV, pushed off the air


The Israel lobbying group, Bicom, the British and US governments, and the Royal Family have been blamed by Press TV for the channel's demise.

Broadcasting standards watchdog Ofcom revoked Press TV's licence with immediate effect last Friday after ruling that Iranian authorities were responsible for editorial decisions on the channel's shows in Britain.

Ofcom warned last October that it was prepared to revoke Press TV's licence after finding that it had broken broadcasting rules by showing a 2009 interview with Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, conducted under duress while he was detained by Iranian authorities.

When Press TV refused to pay the £100,000 fine imposed in the Bahari case, Ofcom pulled the plug, ordering Sky to remove the channel from its platform.

Former presenters and contributors include George Galloway, Labour's London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone, and Tony Blair's sister-in-law, Islamic convert Lauren Booth.

Whatever one thinks of Press TV's output, it expressed a certain viewpoint that it is important for us to have access to, even if we find it at times repugnant. Geoffrey Alderman

The channel had been repeatedly censured. In August 2010, Ofcom ruled that it had breached guidelines on impartiality when Ms Booth made anti-Israel comments during a show, and Mr Galloway was found guilty of a similar misdemeanour for an on-air description of Israel as "a terrorist gangster state" and a "miscreant, law-breaking rogue, war-launching, occupying state".

Among those campaigning for the channel to be reinstated in Britain are protesters from the Occupy London Finsbury Square movement.

The channel's website published an article by Iranian author Ismail Salami accusing Bicom of having "worked closely with Ofcom towards eliminating a critical voice". He claimed Ofcom had "intimate ties" to the Royal Family.

Mr Salami concluded that Britain "is now deluded into believing that her efforts have resulted in splendid fruits and that she has been able to gratify the whims of the Zionists".

Media analysts predicted that contributors would now turn to the internet to broadcast their views. One suggested the English-language news channel Russia Today might become the most likely outlet for critics of the West.

JC columnist Geoffrey Alderman appeared on Press TV four times in 2011, receiving £300 in fees which he "donated to Israel".

He criticised the revoking of the licence, claiming it would "only serve to increase anti-Western sentiment in Iran, and only bolster Islamist feelings of victimhood". It was, he said, important to have access to the channel, however repugnant people might find it.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive