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Press TV shut down
1:50pm Friday 20th January 2012 in Business
Iranian news network Press TV has had its licence revoked by communications watchdog Ofcom.
The London-based channel, whose presenters include former MP George Galloway and Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth, will go off the air today. Mr Galloway has since tweeted: “Champions of liberty the British govt have now taken Press TV off Sky.”
A statement released by the watchdog said it was apparent that “editorial control of the channel rested with Press TV International (based in Tehran)” - in breach of broadcasting rules which state the licence holder must have general control of programming.
It was also fined £100,000 after broadcasting an interview with a journalist while they were being held in an Iranian prison, which Ofcom said was “obtained under duress”.
The Ofcom statement said Press TV had “indicated it is unwilling and unable to pay” the fine.
The channel, which is funded by the Iranian government, says on its website that it has a vision of “Heeding the often neglected voices and perspectives of a great portion of the world”.
This is not the first time it has fallen foul of Ofcom. A phone-in TV programme presented by Mr Galloway was criticised by the broadcasting watchdog for breaching impartiality rules in 2010.
Ofcom investigated after Mr Galloway’s weekly, one-hour English-language programme, Comment, sparked complaints that it was biased against Israel.
The regulator concluded that “due impartiality” had not been maintained in individual programmes or across the series.