An update on the news that OFCOM is acting as a censor on foreign news broadcasting by revoking the licence of Iranian news agency Press TV preventing subscribers to satellite broadcasting viewing an alternative source of news.
In case you are not yet aware, OfCom, Britain’s Office of Communications, has decided to take Press TV off air in the UK this week. The significance of this move by the state regulator should not be underestimated. The battle for free speech is definitely on.
With this move, the state apparatus has all but declared war on a foreign network’s ability to broadcast a political perspective that differs from the consensus reality line. Note that the state, particularly in the UK, will spend millions per year in order to enforce a rolling agenda of talking points. In the US, it will also spend billions to ensure the same thing.
Today London’s Telegraph newspaper reported, “The foreign arm of the Iranian state broadcaster is to pull off the British airwaves after media regulator revoked its broadcasting license.”
Press TV, the channel which acts as the overseas mouthpiece of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, has been told by Ofcom that it has breached broadcasting rules with interviewing a journalist who has been imprisoned in an Iranian jail and forced to read from a prepared script.
The ruling comes after a year-long investigation by Ofcom into the claims made by Maziar Bahari, a journalist for the US magazine, Newsweek, who was filmed by Press TV while being imprisoned in Tehran for nearly four months. He was arrested while covering the 2009 Iranian Presidential elections.
With this move, a new front in the info-wars has truly opened up. It’s not just about winning over minds and getting the info out. It is now about being able to get that info out there. It’s about preserving the free speech platform where we can receive and deliver all that valuable information. And we are up against the state.
Over the last eight years, I’ve involved myself in the battle- the one which Alex Jones and others have referred to as the Information War. The first step was getting informed, and the second step was getting involved by creating content which, up to this point, has relied heavily on the internet’s free speech platform. From this open platform, even an individual could broadcast locally, regionally and globally, disseminating information that would otherwise not get to these audiences.
Active internet news sounds like this writer, in search of alternative views that differ from the corporate mainstream media conglomerates that could not believe their eyes when Press TV, a 24-hour English language global news network launched online in January 2007, followed by the TV launch later. It seemed to be the only place in the UK where one could go to catch a completely different, fresh take on domestic and world events. For sure, it had an edge.
Ofcom’s legal reasons for pulling down the network were an administrative one, citing a breach in the broadcasting code and some administrative problems with Press TV’s application as the reason.
Press TV’s response to the UK ban was predictably defiant, “The British media regulator’s decision is considered to be an abuse of the UK media law and the result of mounting pressure on the organization by certain members of the royal family and government.”
As an alternative international media outlet, Press TV took pains to break the mainstream media’s total silence on the violation of international law and human rights committed by the UK government at home and abroad.
The fact that the Iranian-owned Press TV has drawn heavy fire from certain establishment and government critics who accuse it of being ‘biased’ towards an Iranian agenda. If only that were a prerequisite for taking a media network off the air, you could expect that Britain’s state broadcaster, the BBC, would have its license revoked overnight in foreign countries around the world.
Certainly, the main reason for the West’s aggressive attitude toward Press TV is that, according to the US State Department, Iran is meant to be an enemy of the United States, Europe and Israel. If you’ve been paying attention, the war drum against Iran has not stopped beating since Dick Cheney and John Bolton began pounding it early in 2004.
If a war with Iran is on the cards, eliminating Press TV in the UK and the US will be a top priority for the governments in those countries, as Press TV will be broadcasting a different view than the BBC or CNN. This would be very problematic for the establishment.
The US and Britain, who built their empires on the powerful illusion of media, simply cannot accept that a country like Iran could win-over English speaking audiences, doing a better job reporting the news than the likes of CNN or the BBC. Worse yet, they cannot accept anything other than an anti-Iranian perspective portrayed through the TV lens.
Chris Bambery, a political analyst in London explained the possible motivation behind Britain’s move, saying, “To me Press TV has a much wider range of debate than it is available on BBC, with views of people who support their Republican Party in the United States, who support free market policies in this country. I have debated with those people and I think Press TV has done an startling job here and that is precisely why, I believe, it is being taken off because as the reporter just said, we know there has been pressure from a number of lobbies in this country, from the Foreign Office and inside the BBC to take Press TV off the air.”
Will the state be moving in on another foreign network next?
Following the strength of Press TV, in August 2007 Russia Today (RT), another 24 hr global news network that offered an incredibly diverse band of news and opinion, not seen before on TV, arrived. Before long, RT became the second most-watched foreign news channel in the United States, after the BBC, and also set a TV News Channel record after exceeding a view count on YouTube of half a billion.
Like Press TV, the staff at RT remained committed to delivering an even more challenging slate of programming, with it’s strap-line, “RT: question more.” It has kept its overwhelmingly anti-war, anti-globalist and pro-humanity agenda, and is generally resistant to the usual propaganda lines which are streamlined through the Murdoch media press, routinely churned out of the Whitehall, Tel Aviv, White House and US State Department.
I found myself becoming RT’s number one fan, so I did not hesitate when I was invited to contribute on air. I didn’t know anyone in the organization, had no contacts and no introductions. They simply liked my writing and were willing to give me a shot on live TV. To date, no editor at RT has ever censored or attempted to censor anything I have said, or even ask me to alter my opinion on any subject.
This type of network practice is very, very rare in today’s corporate media matrix and for this reason, interested audiences around the world need to be vigilant and support free speech when it comes under attack from the host state.
The Britain’s unofficial censorship unit Ofcom has obviously recognized the ability of countries like Iran to produce slick, polished and balanced programming- and deliver it with a high degree of professionalism. And in TV, the rating doesn’t lie. The establishment knows full well that both Press TV and RT have attracted millions of viewers- viewers who will never go back to the BBC News, SKY News or ITV News.
The battle begins. Today it is a ‘foreign’ TV network like Press TV that is being targeted, and taken down by the state.
Tomorrow, it could be RT… and after that, who knows? Will it be hundreds of ‘foreign’ internet news websites like Infowars.com.
This latest victory for the censors is a move backwards for Britain, and it strikes deep into the heart of our free society- a society that generations have fought long and hard to arrive at.
Support Press TV, support RT. If you really live in a free society, you should be able to watch and support any network that you choose to.
Have no doubt, the infowar is well and truly on.