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On Friday, British authorities revoked the license of Press TV, Iran’s English language news channel, for violating the Communications Act. The Wall Street Journal reported that the British communications regulator, Ofcom, made the decision. It was triggered by Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek journalist, who filed a complaint against Press TV after it aired a false confession of him in 2009.
“Press TV will cease to broadcast today; we have given them a number of opportunities to bring them into compliance. For whatever reason, they have not done so,” Rhys Hurd of Ofcom said.
Even though Ofcom did not revoke the channel’s broadcasting license in 2009, it declared the release of Mr. Bahari’s footage, while he was under duress during his imprisonment in an Iranian prison as “serious breach in broadcasting code.” Ofcom imposed a fine of 100,000 British pounds for invading his privacy.
According to the Guardian, Press TV has been offered two options by Ofcom in November. The first was to turn over editorial control to the UK for Press TV’s programming, and the second was to shift the broadcasting license to Iran.
“Broadcasting rules require that a license is held by the person who is in general control of the TV service: that is, the person that chooses the programmes to be shown in the service and organizes the programme schedule,” Ofcom said.
Despite Ofcom’s open-minded offer, Press TV has failed to meet both of the conditions and pay the fine which was due early this month. The regulator said, “Press TV has failed to make the necessary application, and Ofcom has therefore revoked Press TV’s license to broadcast in the UK.”
In a statement made late Friday, Press TV retaliated against Ofcom’s decision by calling it “the British government’s tool to control the media” and indicted the regulator for waging a campaign against the Iranian channel for being an “alternative news channel.”
Hamid Emadi, the Press TV newsroom director, said, “The British government and Ofcom will not be able to silence Press TV’s voice in the UK. We will exhaust all possibilities and will try to stay in the UK as an active media player and an alternative voice.” Currently, UK viewers can still continue to watch Press TV online through its website.
Lastly, the Wall Street Journal also reported that Press TV has yet to pay the fine and, until now, has refused to do so. “Ofcom is pursuing this as a separate matter,” the regulator said.