The Guardian reported on Friday that Press TV, the English-language news outlet operated by Iran’s clerical regime since 2007, was stripped of its license for violating broadcasting regulations.
According to the Guardian, the satellite television broadcast service failed to pay a £100,000 fine for showing an interview with “Maziar Bahari, an imprisoned Newsweek journalist, that had been conducted under duress.” Ofcom, the British communications regulatory agency, further justified its decision to revoke Press TV's license because of its “practice of running its editorial oversight from Tehran, Iran's capital, is in breach of broadcasting licence rules in the UK.”
In 2010, the BBC ran a documentary on Iran’s notorious Press TV and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s journalistic enablers in London. The BBC World Service program—“Useful Idiots”—examined Press TV’s involvement in torture.
The British-based affiliate of Press TV featured a who’s who of pro-Iranian regime supporters. The former British member of parliament George Galloway (a huge fan of what was then the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq) appears as a host on Press TV. The radical Islamic British journalist Yvonne Ridley also worked for Press TV. As a reporter for the Sunday Express in 2001, Ridley was taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan and later converted to Islam.
In addition to colluding with Iranian security forces to exert violence on a journalist, Press TV fabricated media reports. The Telegraph reported in December that Press TV manufactured fake U.S. drone strikes in Somalia to damage America’s image. In short, there was no journalistic method of verification at Press TV because it was not, in fact, a news gathering organization.
One telling example of Press TV’s anti-Semitism was a broadcast titled, "Zionists follow footsteps of Nazis." According to the EU and State Department definitions of modern anti-Semitism, the comparison of the Jewish state with Nazi Germany is manifestation of Jew-hatred.
While the British government has cracked down on Iran’s activities in the United Kingdom, including the eviction last year of the Iranian ambassador, many EU countries continues to engage Iran’s anti-Western and anti-Semitic propaganda outlets. In Germany, for example, the Islamic Republic has wide latitude to operate its media outlets.
Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a prominent German-Iranian scholar from the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy, has long documented and criticized Iran’s “media” work in Germany for down playing the Holocaust. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) operates a German-based “news” outlet.
Perhaps the Germans and other EU countries will follow the admirable lead of their British counterparts and outlaw the extended arm of Iran’s regime.
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow of the Foundation of Defense of Democracies.