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Push off now, Press TV, and take your conspiracy theories with you

20 January 2012

5:13 PM

20 January 2012

5:13 PM

A week that began with an insane decision from the European Court of Human Rights has come to an end with a sensible
decision from Ofcom. The Iranian government’s propaganda channel in London, Press TV, has just had its license to broadcast revoked.

Insomniac Islamists will no longer be able to enjoy their weekly dose of programmes presented by the likes of Lauren Booth, Tariq Ramadan or Derek Conway. And of course they will now forever
miss The Real Deal with George Galloway. On that show you could see such treats as Galloway interviewing
‘President’ Ahmadinejad
. It is a wonderful interview, not least thanks to Galloway’s thoughtful attempt to lay out the terrain for his interviewee, explaining that he
himself needed ‘police protection in London from the Iranian opposition because of my support for your election campaign. I mention this so you know where I’m coming from,’ he added

As my colleague Houriya Ahmed pointed out last month, Press TV showed its colours in great and small
matters. Muslim and non-Muslim presenters alike are required to wear head coverings while on air and broadcasting from London. But it was during the Green Revolution in 2009 when things were
at their worst. The murder of Neda Agha Soltan by supporters of the regime was dismissed by Press TV as a Western conspiracy.  The channel did everything it could to ignore, diminish and
then deride the popular and brave uprising on the Iranian streets. During this period Tariq Ramadan — now of Oxford University — used his programme on global issues not to focus on
the gunning down of young protestors on the streets of Iran by the bosses of Press TV, but, rather, to focus on the dangerous rise of ‘Islamophobia’ in Europe.

Repeatedly criticised by Ofcom, last year Press TV went too far even by its standards when it ran an ‘interview’ with the imprisoned Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari. This
‘interview’ was carried out with the interviewee under duress in an Iranian jail.

Since that moment Press TV has been under the kind of pressure it should have been under from the start. Last October the channel was told by the regulator that it was ‘minded’ to
revoke the license.  The following month this was converted into a £100,000 fine. But Press TV has failed to pay the sum. Ofcom has also found that the fact that Press TV’s editorial
oversight is done from Tehran breaches broadcasting licence rules in Britain.

Doubtless there will be much new bluster from Press TV and, indeed, from the dictatorship in Iran over this matter. Reminding us of the nature of the conspiracy-theory mindset, when Ofcom came
to its October decision, the channel claimed the regulatory body was succumbing to ‘demands’ made by ‘the British royal family.’ Who knew?

The fact that the Iranian government is no longer able to run a propaganda station from London is a cause for celebration. Only the fact it was able to do so in the first place can sour the
savouring of this moment.

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