Sunday, May 22, 2011

Britain steps up pressure on PressTV

Source: Press TV

The British government has unleashed a new wave of pressure on Press TV in the latest example of infringement on freedom of speech.

The British government is apparently seeking to use Ofcom regulations as a pretext to impose penalties on Press TV news network and the independent London-based Press TV limited company.

It is speculated that in a politically motivated move, the British Office of Communications, better known as Ofcom, is pursuing a case against Press TV for broadcasting an interview with a Newsweek journalist. The telecommunications regulator is drawing on Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari's complaint that includes claims of unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in the making and broadcasting of a Press TV program.

While PressTV is preparing to publicize the case and its arguments against Ofcom, many analysts say Ofcom's move adds another piece to the puzzle of the British government in its bid to further limit Press TV's activities.

It appears that Press TV's policy of breaking the western monopoly on media and its critical examination of certain red lines for the western media has been the main reason behind Britain's efforts to pressure the Iranian news channel, with cases like that of Bahari serving as a means to Britain's ends.

Press TV has given full coverage to student protests in Britain, shed light on the dark, undemocratic aspects of the British political structure, specially the hereditary rule of the royals, and laid bare London's double approach to Middle East developments and their links with Britain's historical presence in the region.

Such topics, along with Press TV's regular coverage of crimes by the Israeli regime in Palestine and Lebanon are definitely among the strict red lines that British media policy makers will not easily tolerate, a fact supported by a host of indications.

The US State Department cables published by WikiLeaks demonstrate that the British Foreign Office told the US embassy in London back in February 2010 that it was "exploring ways to limit the operations of… Press TV".

The WikiLeaks documents revealed that the British authorities reconsidered their decision in the face of legal difficulties at the time but were still looking at other means to address the issue, including the possible use of new anti-Iran sanctions to justify such measures.

This comes as British authorities have failed in their efforts to point to any legitimate problems with the quality or content of programs produced by Press TV. The Wikileaks report clearly shows that the British government has got no other way but to seriously disrupt press TV's activities in Britain.

Last month, the National Westminster Bank, Commercial Banking office froze Press TV Ltd's business account without any prior notice, claiming the accounts would be permanently closed in February 2011.

Meanwhile, in an article published on January 16, 2011, British journalist and broadcaster Lauren Booth charted UK's efforts to assist the US with blocking the company that sells documentaries and series to the Iranian channel of the same name.

Booth, who is former British Premier Tony Blair's sister-in-law, said the Israeli-backed pressure began when the company started its activities four years ago, as part of an effort to "use Ofcom as some kind of offshoot Hasbara body."

Booth said letters of complaint written by people linked to the Israeli Embassy in London and its supporters were sent to the broadcasting regulator whenever Press TV aired news items that shed light on the thuggery, blackmail and racism inherent in the Israeli government policy.

She added as the complaint letter campaign has not been much successful, hacking of emails, Facebook accounts and mobile phones were used to cause tensions between colleagues.

The staff at Press TV Ltd have been intimidated and threatened by members of the MKO terrorist grouping in London. Yet, the British government has turned a blind eye to such incidents and may have even facilitated them as the MKO are continuing their threats.

Press TV website plans to publish detailed information on the recent case staged by Ofcom in the near future

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