Britain's telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, revoked the license of Iranian state-owned television Press TV over breaches of the broadcasting code. Press TV has fired back, calling the move "questionable" and stating that the real intention is to undermine the political messages of the channel.
Ofcom's decision outlines that in order to obtain a British broadcasting license, the Britain-based branch must have control over the content of its programs. The decision charges that the real editorial decisions of London-based Press TV Ltd. are actually made by Press TV International, which follows the dictates of the Iranian government. Press TV Ltd. was also fined £100,000 last month for a 2009 violation of "broadcasting an interview under duress," when the company conducted an interview with detained Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari. Press TV Ltd. failed to pay or even respond to the fine.
Press TV has countered that the allegations are a way "to conceal the truth from the people of Britain," concerning British imperialism and supposed corruption in the royal family. However, the action is more probably linked to statements from a February 2010 Wikileaks document, describing Britain's desire for diplomatic retaliation against Iran's blocking of British and European stations. "HMG [Her Majesty's Government] is exploring ways to limit the operations of the IRIB's Press TV service, which operates a large bureau (over 80 staff) in London," the leaked cable said, linking future actions to sanctions on the Iranian government.
Diplomatic retaliation may also provide a reason for the December 2010 freezing of the media group's accounts by Britain's National Westminster Bank. But well-known British Muslim activist and Press TV correspondent Lauren Booth claimed that the account freezing was part of a secretive campaign by "Zionist organizations" to stop anti-Western and anti-Israel programming.
Though it serves as a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime, American Islamists routinely appear on Press TV, often criticizing American government policies or bemoaning life in America for Muslims.