UK revokes Iranian network's license

Story highlights

  • Britain revoked the license for Iran's Press TV
  • The media regulator said Press TV had breached regulations
  • Press TV says there are other motivations for the move
Britain's media regulatory authority revoked an Iranian English-language news organization's U.K. license Friday for a breach of licensing regulations and an unpaid fine.
"Press TV will cease to broadcast today," said Rhys Hurd, communications manager for the British Office of Communication (Ofcom). "We have given them a number of opportunities to bring them into compliance. For whatever reason, they have not done so."
Last year, Ofcom launched an investigation into a complaint by Newsweek and Channel 4 journalist Maziar Bahari against the Press TV. Bahari accused the broadcaster of airing an interview obtained while under duress during his nearly four-month imprisonment in Iran's notorious Evin Prison in 2009.
Ofcom declared the interview a "serious breach in broadcasting code," Hurd said, and imposed a 100,000 British pound (U.S. $154,000)fine for invasion of privacy.
Bahari was arrested in late June 2009 for participating in riots and acts against national security, according to the international organization Reporters Without Borders. The indictment read out in court by the deputy prosecutor cited confessions extracted from Bahari.
The regulatory agency also said that broadcasting rules require the license to be held by the person who has control over the network's programs and services. In this case, that would be the Press TV's U.K. hub. An Ofcom investigation, however, revealed the license was held by Press TV International in Tehran.
The Iranian broadcaster responded by suggesting that its programming may have offended British leaders.
"Ofcom is said to have close ties to Britain's royal family. And the cables released by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks show that Press TV's programs on the royal wedding, which many in the country described as extravagant, angered the royal family," according to Press TV.
The media regulator denies the claim.
Viewers in the U.K. can continue watching Press TV on the network's website.