Everytime I flick on to the PressTV channel of my freeview box, I get a blank screen.
That’s because Of com has taken the Iranian-owned station off air, citing the failure to pay a six-figure sum for broadcasting an interview with someone who later said what he had said had come about under duress, and a number of breaches of editorial standards.
PressTV for its part says this is censorship, and that it has been penalised for the line it has taken on last year’s Royal wedding – remember this is a revolution that overthrew a monarch – and for its coverage of the riots that hit Britain.
Phil Rees, who has appeared on the station as a journalist and media analyst told RussiaToday that at the “end of the day” this decision had more to do with Iran’s relationship with the West, and with Britain – whose embassy in Tehran was recently stormed – in particular.
PressTV suffered from weak journalism, and was seen by many within the industry as a propaganda channel, the ideas of fairness, balance and impartiality in its newscoverage were often not present, something that will no doubt be levelled at RussiaToday and the Chinese-owned CCTV.
That said PressTV did bother to cover the civilian toll of the Afghan and Iraq wars, and a viewer was given a fresh point of view, one seen through the eyes of someone regarded in this country as ‘other’.
George Galloway’s slot gave people who would not get the chance to be heard on television the opportunity to get their point across.
And occasionally their documentaries brought something new, like the truck drivers journey through Siberia.
And unlike many newsrooms, it was also a very woman friendly environment – you only have to look at the number of women presenters to appreciate that.
With tension mounting in the Strait of Hormuz, it would have been better to have allowed this channel to continue its broadcasts from its Hanger Lane office.
Instead, by closing it down it looks like someone has decided to silence a flawed, but still alternative voice.