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Iranian TV claims royals ordered Ofcom to ban it

Watchdog still mulling how to bitchslap bonkers Press TV

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Press TV, not waiting to get its official reprimand for broadcasting a dodgy interview, has accused Ofcom of being in league with the Royal Family to get it taken off the air.

The channel, which is a division of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and funded by the state of Iran, reckons it has inside knowledge that the UK watchdog is about to have it kicked off the Sky satellite platform, and that the regulator is only doing that in response to Press TV's irreverent coverage our of monarchy and reporting of civil unrest in the UK.

Ofcom retorts that it still hasn't made any such decision, despite having spent more than 15 months investigating the case of the broadcast interview with Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari. Ofcom has decided that Press TV was wrong to broadcast the interview, and said in May that the station "omitted material facts and was placed in a context in which inferences adverse to Mr Bahari in could be drawn" (pdf), but despite that the regulator tells us it hasn't yet made a decision on what action to take.

It's pretty unlikely that Ofcom would actually block the channel being transmitted, in response to a 10-second interview, even if it was shoddy journalism. Some sort of fine, a broadcast apology, and a promise to behave better in future is more usual in such cases, but that wouldn't fit in with the ideology being pushed by Press TV.

The channel is one of a handful of government-funded stations that are increasingly pushing national perspectives and agendas onto international TV screens. Russia Today is another good example, already available on Freeview it offers an alternative view of the news - often one at odds with common perception and (sometimes) sense.

Living in the country that's offered the BBC World Service for decades we're in no position to complain about other governments broadcasting their point of view, but it's an interesting trend just as we are cutting our own investment in projecting our perspective abroad.

Press TV's rant about Ofcom starts off dismissing the complaints, then gets down to accusing the regulator of being a mechanism of state censorship before concluding that Peter Mandelson is a Jew.

It's true that Ofcom censors UK television, generally preventing the display of too much flesh before the watershed (though "gently thrusting buttocks" are OK). Most slaps are administered for rogue advertising, such as imploring X-Factor viewers to rush to iTunes and download stuff, or claiming to offer internet connections fast than anyone else's, hardly the stuff international politics is made of.

But, notably, when we asked the regulator directly if it operated as a royalist lickspittle there was no denial forthcoming - the laughter could have been taken either way. ®

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