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Iranian gov mouthpiece Press TV finally gets taken off the air in the UK

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Iranian government-backed broadcaster Press TV has finally got its fondest wish and lost its UK broadcast licence, but its martyrdom is self-inflicted rather than the result of any government conspiracy.

The channel, which had a home on the Sky Satellite platform, has been claiming to have been banned since October, saying it frightens the UK establishment. It did get fined £100,000 in December for broadcasting a dodgy interview, and has now lost its licence on the grounds that the body holding said licence (Press TV Limited, the UK subsidiary of the Iranian organisation) wasn't making the editorial decisions.

Ofcom tells us it offered to help Press TV get a licence for its Tehran-based editorial operation, and reminds us that several channels have their editorial operations abroad and that's fine as long as those operations are the ones holding the licence. But Press TV refused such offers, and only the UK office holds a broadcast licence.

Ofcom rules are pretty clear that the body making the editorial decisions has to hold the licence, so the channel will get yanked off the air at midnight Friday.

Which is, arguably, just what Press TV wants. The channel has spent the last four months claiming its licence had already been rescinded on the orders of a British government conspiracy motivated to act by irreverent Press TV coverage of the royal wedding, so it risked looking pretty silly if the regulator had just slapped its wrist and issued a stern warning.

Just to be sure there's no residual sympathy Press TV has apparently "indicated it is unwilling and unable to pay the £100,000 fine", which was levied against the broadcaster after it transmitted an interview with a Newsweek journalist out of context.

But Ofcom isn't withdrawing the licence for that, only because the editorial decisions are being made by a body which doesn't hold the broadcasting licence.

So after tonight we'll have to stick with China Central TV, Russia Today and Fox News for our ideologically-motivated news coverage. ®

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