Ofcom has revoked the licence held by Press TV Limited with immediate effect. Through the course of 2011, Ofcom was engaged in a sanctions case with Press TV regarding an interview obtained under duress from the Newsweek and Channel 4 journalist Maziar Bahari while in an Iranian prison which Ofcom had held to be a serious breach of the Broadcasting Code. This resulted in the imposition of a £100,000 (€119,000) fine on Press TV Limited.
During the course of the sanctions hearing the licensee (Press TV Limited based in London) made representations that suggested to Ofcom that editorial control of the channel rested with Press TV International (based in Tehran). Broadcasting rules require that a licence is held by the person who is in general control of the TV service: that is, the person that chooses the programmes to be shown in the service and organises the programme schedule.
Ofcom gave Press TV Limited the opportunity to apply to have its operations in Tehran correctly licensed by Ofcom and Ofcom offered to assist it to do so. Press TV Limited was given the opportunity to make representations on Ofcom’s “minded to revoke” letter. Press TV Limited has failed to make the necessary application and Ofcom has therefore revoked Press TV’s licence to broadcast in the UK.
Press TV is expected to be removed from the Sky TV platform by the end of 20 January 2012.
In addition, Press TV Limited has indicated it is unwilling and unable to pay the £100,000 fine and Ofcom is pursuing this as a separate matter.