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Raving Iranian TV accuses Ofcom of Sky ban

But regulator insists it hasn't booted Press TV off the air

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Iranian-backed Press TV is again claiming it's been kicked it off Sky, despite the fact that Ofcom hasn't done any such thing, though the regulator has asked for an editorial office in the UK.

Perhaps concluding that attack is the best form of defence, Press TV has launched into Ofcom with cries of censorship and conspiracy over the withdrawal of its broadcast licence. The channel reckons Ofcom has taken it away because Press TV's irreverence to our Royals, and reporting of UK activities abroad, an argument which would make a lot more sense if Ofcom had actually had any communication with the channel in the last few days.

In fact Press TV still has several days left to cough up the £100,000 it was fined for broadcasting a dodgy interview without sufficient permission or background, and has around a week left to set up the UK editorial office Ofcom has required.

Blighty's broadcasters have to have run their editorial from a UK office, but while investigating that dodgy interview Ofcom discovered that Press TV was being run from Tehran. The channel was given 35 days to sort that out, a schedule which runs out towards the end of next week.

In its attack Press TV describes that as "administrative errors in [our] application for a license in 2007", which is an interesting interpretation. But then it also says that "Ofcom has ... decided to remove [us] from the Sky platform", something the regulator absolutely denies.

It would be weird to impose a fine, and require a change in organisational structure, and then withdraw the licence days before both were due to be completed. Even the UK government wouldn't be so unsubtle, and if Press TV relocates its editorial and pays the fine then Ofcom would have a hard time legally withdrawing the licence. So the attack only makes sense if Press TV has no intention of doing one, or both, of the above.

The alternative is that Press TV has every intention of complying, and then plans to claim a victory over the regulator when it fails to disappear from the Sky platform.

But for the moment Press TV is happy to paint itself as the oppressed party, no doubt redoubling its efforts when Radio 4 airs its analysis of the channel, and its relationship to the Iranian government, this evening. ®

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