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Anorak News | Banning Russia Today would be as ridiculous as the bilge it broadcasts

Banning Russia Today would be as ridiculous as the bilge it broadcasts

by | 20th, April 2018

Like many of you, I was disappointed when in 2012 Ofcom banned the Iranian state’s English-language mouthpiece Press TV. Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, revoked its licence for breaching the Communications Act, for running its editorial oversight from Tehran, a habit that contravened the rules. “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 said. Press TV could run editorial form the UK or broadcast from Iran. “Ofcom gave Press TV 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 was given the opportunity to make representations on Ofcom’s ‘minded to revoke’ letter”. Press TV has failed to make the necessary application and Ofcom has therefore revoked Press TV’s licence to broadcast in the UK.”

A few British journalists and politicians – George Galloway, Yvonne Ridley, Ken Livingstone, Lauren Booth and Jeremy Corbyn – were all familiar faces on Press TV. The Guardian says Corbyn “presented a call-in programme on Press TV, a propaganda channel of the Iranian government which was banned by Ofcom and which regularly hosts Holocaust deniers.”

Nick Cohen added in The Spectator:

By hosting interviews, Corbyn gives the propaganda the ‘credibility’ of a Western politician. It’s fascinating to hear Iranian democracy campaigner Maziar Bahari’s own thoughts on Corbyn, who he describes as ‘a useful idiot’, and goes on to say:

People who present programmes for Press TV and get paid for it should be really ashamed of themselves — especially if they call themselves liberals and people who are interested in human rights.

The Iranian regime executes gay people, democracy activists, Kurds, and orders the rape of female prisoners. But Corbyn is happy to take their money and aid their propaganda campaign. Watch the end of this clip as Jeremy hosts a caller who describes the BBC as having hosted ‘Zionist liars’.

A few highlights:

 

 

And:

 

Corbyn mural east london

Corbyn and ‘Yvonne Ridley/ – that one form Press TV? – both like the mural that Labour now says is deeply anti-Semitic.

 

Business Insider noted:

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn accepted up to £20,000 (about $27,000) for appearances on the Iranian state broadcast network Press TV — a channel that was banned in the UK for its part in filming the detention and torture of an Iranian journalist…

Corbyn’s final Press TV appearance was six months after the network had its broadcasting license revoked by Ofcom for airing a forced confession by Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari. Ofcom is the government’s TV regulatory body which sets rules for UK broadcasters. Bahari told Business Insider that while he was detained by Iranian authorities he was tortured and threatened with execution before he agreed to read out a pre-agreed script on Iranian television, filmed by Press TV…

Press TV is part of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s tightly controlled broadcasting machinery. Its director is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader — the state’s chief religious and political authority – which means that its output is often biased in favour of strict establishment ideology.

During the period between the year of Corbyn’s first appearance and his last, for example, Iran hanged at least 1,314 people, according to Amnesty International. It is a place where the rights of women, LGBT people, and religious and ethnic minorities are harshly curtailed. In 2011, the year of Corbyn’s third appearance, three Iranian men were executed for homosexuality. An Amnesty International report released last year said that Sunni Muslims and Kurdish political prisoners have been executed for bringing “corruption” to the world.

Press TV’s newsroom director, Hamid Emadi, replied:

“Press TV believes that Ofcom is the media tool of the British government – the same government that sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in the killing of innocent civilians. The British government and Ofcom will not be able to silence Press TV’s voice in the UK.”

But it did.

And now the no less monocular Russian Today (RT) is in the firing line. And that too is a shame. If we want to see the bias, disinformation, conspiracy theories, barbs, slurs and propaganda broadcast by regressive foreign regimes, Press TV and the Kremlin-fed Russia Today are useful. Its presence makes us thankful for our freedoms in which a plural media let’s use see more not less.

But some want it banned.

Labour MP Stephen Doughty opined: “On Russia Today, can I urge the Prime Minister to speak with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to look at reviewing Russia Today’s broadcasting licence, and to speak to the House authorities about blocking their broadcasts in this building itself. Why should we be watching their propaganda in this Parliament?” Shadow chancellor John McDonnell says RT, at times, “goes beyond objective journalism”.

Ofcom has RT in its crosshairs. There are seven investigations into whether the channel breached impartiality rules since the Salisbury nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia that left both in a critical condition in hospital. RT says the British did it. RT says the story is “woven with lies”. So what? If RT is your single source for news, and one you see as operating at the vanguard of truth, you should loosen the elastic on your tinfoil hat.

The argument that Russia poses a unique threat to our way of life through its obvious bullshit and clandestine social media activities gives the country and its broadcaster too much credit. Banning RT and its laughable attempts to troll the West would only limit our world view. We know what nonsense Russia pumps out because we can see it first hand. It’s ridiculous stuff. Don’t ban it – that’s the kind of thing Putin and his goons do. Just do what most of us now do: ignore it.



Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio Comment | TrackBack | Permalink