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Ranting Iranian TV fined £100k for shoddy interview

Ofcom repeats threat to revoke 'news' channel's licence

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Despite ranting for months that it was going to be pulled off the air, Press TV has actually been hit with a fine of £100,000 for shoddy reporting, as expected.

But that has not stopped the channel claiming Ofcom has reversed its decision, and convincing The Guardian of that too: proving the maxim that if you state something enough times everyone will come to believe it. But the fine is what we expected, though the channel is going to have to relocate its management to the UK as well.

While investigating the circumstances around the interview with Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, which led to the £100,000 fine, Ofcom discovered that Press TV was being run almost entirely from Tehran, and not by the UK subsidiary which holds the broadcast licence. That's against the rules, and did result in a threat of revocation unless control is passed to the UK within 35 days.

The state-funded Press TV styles itself as an alternative news source, and certainly reading the headlines one might think oneself in an alternative universe. A universe where media coverage of UK strikes is subject to a government-imposed blackout, all police animals are "snarling attack dogs" and Britons are up in arms about Obama referring to the British Embassy as "English": it's enough to make a Daily Mail reader blush.

Back in the real world, Press TV broadcast an interview without sufficient background, giving an inaccurate impression [PDF] of the subject, for which the channel has been fined £100,000. Meanwhile Press TV has also been ordered to transfer control of the station to the body which holds the licence, or risk losing that licence.

But that's a lot less interesting than conspiracy theories involving foreign-office pressure, state control and the preponderance of pro-Israeli feeling in the higher echelons of Ofcom. ®

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