Ofcom revokes Press TV’s UK licence

Press TV, the news channel backed by the Iranian government, is to be taken off the air in Britain, regulator Ofcom ruled today.

The station was fined £100,000 by Ofcom in December 2011, after the station hid the fact that a 2009 ‘interviewee’ was being forcibly detained in Iran. However, the station did not meet its January deadline to pay the fine.

Ofcom also requested that Press TV name on its licence the person, or body who controls its UK-based operations.

But Ofcom says Press TV failed to accede to either request. As a result, the channel will be taken off its UK platform – Sky television – today.

Rhys Hurd, press spokesman at Ofcom, told the Bureau:

‘We are revoking Press TV’s licence because editorial control does not sit with the UK licencee. We have given the broadcaster a number of opportunities to bring themselves into line, indeed we have bent over backwards to accommodate them, but they have failed to do so.’

Hurd added: ‘We have very simple ground rules. Ofcom licences around 1000 stations and the vast majority stay within those rules.’

Press TV called the decision ‘scandalous’, with CEO Mohammad Sarafraz claiming that the decision is ‘an act of aggression by the British monarchy’ which ‘will prevent the British from learning the truth’.

In an October 2011 an opinion poll on the station’s website, Press TV reported that 52% of respondents viewed Ofcom’s decision as ‘an instance of intellectual terrorism.’

In December 2011, an investigation by the Bureau, published in the Guardian, highlighted how Press TV appeared to have faked dozens of accounts of US drone strikes in Somalia which it claimed had killed hundreds of civilians.

The Bureau found no evidence of the alleged 1,370 fatalities, stemming from 56 claimed drone strikes.

Following the Bureau’s revelations, Press TV’s reporting of alleged strikes ceased for over a month, until January 6 2012.

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