A prominent political analyst says that Ofcom is engaging in state-sponsored intellectual terrorism after its contradictory ruling on a Press TV interview broadcast in the UK.
Press TV has interviewed former British MP, George Galloway, from London and Saeb Shaath a prominent political analyst to examine Ofcom’s various positions and the reasons that could be behind them.
This is while Ofcom had previously stated that it would not direct Press TV to broadcast a summary of its findings, only to pay a fine.
However, the regulator announced that Press TV is required to pay a 100,000-pound fine and “broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings on its service.” The summary is as follows:
“Ofcom found that Press TV’s presentation of the interview of Mr. Bahari in the news item was unfair because it missed out important facts, for example that the interview was conducted under duress whilst Mr. Bahari was being held in a prison in Tehran.”
Following is a transcript of the interview:
Press TV: George Galloway how would you describe Ofcom’s refusal to appear on this live talk show to defend their decision?
Galloway: Well, it’s a great pity that a publicly funded organization is not prepared to explain to the public and have that explanation questioned by journalists and by critics like me.
The reasoning behind this savage attack on what used to be one of the jewels in the crown of British society, namely our relative freedom of speech compared with many other countries.
It doesn’t come as a surprise to me though because I was present at the hearing with Ofcom and I could see – and they could see that I could see – just how flimsy, indeed ridiculous the charge against Press TV actually was.
As you in your package have just shown, the 10-second sound bite included in a news broadcast by Press TV of Mr. Bahari contained words that he went on to repeat exactly in dozens of other interviews both in print and on other media.
The offence of which Press TV was charged was invented by Ofcom. It literally didn’t exist before they invented it.
And they changed their own rules to deal with the unfortunate fact that the time period in which complaints can be laid with Ofcom had long expired, when Mr. Bahari for one reason or another was persuaded or persuaded himself to make the complaint.
So I said, at the Ofcom hearing, that it was a big mistake for the Iranians present to imagine that there was any real point in appearing in front of Ofcom because this decision, I believed, had already been made and was made by the very British government, which has been involved in parallel in stepping up the aggression, the hostility, the ostracism of Iran in its overall foreign policy.
In the British way of things, Ofcom is held to be an independent organization but it’s actually not independent at all. And all they were doing in this regard was carrying out a dictate from the British Foreign Office which had earlier been revealed, as you said, in the Wikileaks cable and in an interview given by an unnamed senior Foreign Office official with Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times.
And they will not rest until they have tried to take at least Press TV off the Sky platform in Britain.
Even though on that platform, you will find rabid right wing television stations like Fox News, which is controlled from the United States, not from England and we have the most rabid right wing policy propaganda masquerades as news.
You can have a sex channel, indeed, you can have dozens of sex channels on the Sky platform, you can have gay sex channels, you can have interactive sex channels.
But you can’t have a small news station that challenges the prevailing orthodoxy. That’s the reality of British liberty and freedom nowadays.
Press TV: Let’s take one of the things that [guest] George Galloway has said. Maybe you can help us understand why it took Ofcom two years to disclose their complaint and subsequent fine after contradictory statements.
Sha’ath: This starts with state sponsorship. This is intellectual terrorism in its full glory. The way they are conducting themselves to try to eliminate what appears to them – Press TV is undercutting the major corporate media from their propaganda, and providing the public in the West. Especially right now, Press TV has millions who follow it and appreciate the news, which [it] is providing – which is going deep in analysing to them what is really going on inside their countries, away from the lies provided by the BBC, CNN, and their arm, Al Jazeera, in the Middle East.
From here, I can just wonder – when the strike of the public sector was last week in Britain, live on BBC – somebody like Jeremy Clarkson called for the execution of the public strikers in front of their families. And then he apologized and said he was joking! Where is the conduct of the BBC here in abiding with Ofcom?
Or, one the other hand as well, they were broadcasting – live – the lynching of Gaddafi who was a prisoner of war. And they showed for days – not even seconds – days and weeks to come as well what was an abuse of a prisoner of war; lynching and killing of him – live, graphic – to all the people of the world. That was conducted by the BBC, by Al Jazeera, by CNN, by Fox – all of them.
I wonder where is Ofcom from all of that? This is double standards. And I see it is a is a way in trying to use this ten seconds, which was repeated by the same guy again and again, against Press TV just to demonise Press TV; just to stop and try to silence Press TV.
Since Press TV, as I said, is successful and loved specially by activists and politically aware segments of society, since they understand the service Press TV, lately, is providing and exploring the issues, and providing an alternative point of view countering the propaganda.
Press TV: George Galloway, when we talk about alternative point of view, I mean you have said many times in your program- the voice of the voiceless- but is it really alternative when we look at what Press TV has done.
When we look at the way that news has been highlighted on Press TV, is it a mere fact that certain things are highlighted more in terms of, for example, British foreign policy and its failure?
Or when it comes maybe to the United States due the fact that they have dug so deep and highlighted those more, one thing that has perhaps perturbed the British government and in turn this regulatory body by the name of Ofcom?
Galloway: Yes, I think your other guest is correct in what he implied, namely that if no one was watching us, if no one was paying any attention or being informed and educated by our perspective on the news then they wouldn’t be bothering.
But the crescendo of aggression in the media from all the usual sources – just this Sunday in the pro-Iraq war Observer, one of the leaders of the intellectual campaign for the Iraq war, a man called Nick Cohen, a kind of raving, bigoted Zionist was writing an article saying who will rid us of Press TV?
Harry’s Place, another Neo-con raving Zionist website was doing the same thing this morning; they wouldn’t be bothering if no one was watching.
It’s the fact that Press TV’s audience has steadily gained and its influence steadily spread in Britain and around the world which has gotten under their skin.
They want, when they pick on a subject or a country to have a punch bag that they can mercilessly beat and which can’t fight back. But you see every television station has a perspective, a lens through which it views events.
Does anyone really claim that Fox News, which has an Ofcom license – is controlled from the United States, not a British station at all – does anybody really claim that Fox News does not have its own particular perspective on the news?
What kind of freedom is it, in a free country that allows Fox News owned by Mr. Murdoch, now on trial in front of various fora for all sort of wrong doing – Mr. Murdoch is regarded as a fit and proper person by Ofcom to operate a television station in Britain but Press TV is somehow a target to be silenced.
And that’s the reason. Because we’re getting under their skin, because more and more people are rejecting the prevailing Orthodoxy spewed out by the other channels and turning more and more to us for the truth and to provide that voice for the otherwise voiceless.
Press TV: [Our other guest speaker] George Galloway mentions, Saeb Shaath, ‘getting under their skin’. Let’s review a little bit about how much we’ve gone under their skin during the time of the recent student protests in Britain and, of course, the royal wedding.
Press TV, actually, was contacted by the British royal family, and was asked to tone down its coverage and its criticism. Well, this begs many questions. But first off, if Press TV had complied, would it mean Ofcom would have laid off Press TV in terms of how it’s pursuing it?
Sha’ath: It’s a point but I don’t think so. I said myself on this issue a couple of months ago, where the Occupy movement in England – the United Kingdom, the whole as an Ireland – was preparing itself to take a stage.
There will be pressure applied on Press TV since Press TV is the favourite platform for activists, the working class, and for people who seek democracy and justice worldwide. They turn to Press TV to find the truth.
And we have seen that in the Occupy Wall Street movement. The respect Press TV had there. And everybody was cursing Fox News and the other media providers who were providing propaganda. So, they tried that.
And since the riots which were covered properly on Press TV. The student marches, were ignored totally like they were not even taking place in the UK. When Press TV covered that, they were shaking. They don’t want this kind of information to come out to the public.
We noticed the massive coverage they tried to direct their own point of view to the public workers strikes was taken place a week ago. They are not going to stop.
Since As well, they understand the point of view of the people in the Middle East, in Iran, in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well – can reach worldwide and show the other side of the war being conducted in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya, and other sites of the Middle East, and the preparation for the other wars they try to start in the Middle East.
That will let them and push them to try to silence an international platform for an alternative point of view which the people understand and the people see it serves them right to understand the other side, and to try to stop the corporations and elites dictating to them.
Press TV: George Galloway, I don’t know, maybe legally you could tell us how this is going to stand when they – as you mentioned they aired on BBC channel 4 that 10-second sound bite from Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek reporter?
And also Ofcom’s actions to remove Press TV off the Sky platform, when they said administrative errors in its application for a license back in 2007, of which then it resulted in a fine.
Does this hold up legally – which it doesn’t sound like it should – but then isn’t that going to damage the credibility of at least this organization?
Galloway: Well, I think it’s terribly damaging to Britain. It’s much more damaging to Britain than it is to Iran.
It’s Britain after all that goes around the world invading other people’s countries in the name of liberty and freedom, included in which is the usual ritual denunciation of the lack of freedom and freedom of expression in the countries that are being targeted by the British.
Yet, here they are exposing themselves as hypocrites. Now I knew they were hypocrites but not everyone in the world knew that they were hypocrites and they are busily proving to everyone that they are hypocrites.
I don’t believe that legally it does stand up. It’s not my decision of course, I’m merely a presenter of a couple of programs on Press TV. I’m not consulted about its policy or its actions. But if it were up to me, I would apply to the High Court for a judicial review of the bias, the discrimination which is being demonstrated here.
And I believe there would be a high level of possibility of success in such a legal action. It would certainly stop this juggernaut in its tracks for a considerable period of time.
But I think you cannot separate this. You made the points about the royal family. I know nothing about that and I certainly can’t vouch for it. What I can vouch for is that the Israel lobby has unremittingly attempted to penalize, criminalize and ultimately silence Press TV in Britain and around the world.
I know that because my programs and donors have been the victims of that and they are the driving force I believe in this, the engine in this, as they are the main engine in the overall attack against Iran, which may have some way to go. So, I think we should stand and fight.
I think the viewers want us to stand and fight, but if in the last analysis we are taken off the Sky platform and we can’t share that space with all the sex channels and all the other garbage that spew out of that Sky platform, well people will watch us by other means, on other platforms. They will not close us down. They will not silence Press TV.
Press TV: George Galloway, I should mention, needless to say which you do in your programs, that the comments that you do give is pretty much independent to yourself and those other views that you express.
Press TV: That’s like silencing free media here…
We’ve said something about Israel. Do you think Ofcom’s think tank, some of whom used to work for the state funded BBC – which is a tool for the British government policies, and are well connected to the royal family, and also stand for Israel in terms of how the views are regarding Palestine – have anything to do with this scrutiny on Press TV?
Sha’ath: I said that as well. The war in Gaza and the coverage of Press TV, especially on the criminal Zionist war on Gaza, has changed the scene for those kinds of propaganda media outlets which used to dominate the air.
And from there we can notice the Palestinian cause, and especially the siege of Gaza, gained great momentum with the help of [other guest] Mr. Galloway. He lent massive help with that, as well.
And from there they’ve seen the influence Press TV provided to the cause of Palestine to be heard really for the first time, justly, from a media like Press TV.
That annoyed very much the Zionist lobbies in the UK and the USA. And they tried their best from there to counter that, and to try to sabotage the networks of supporters for Palestine by infiltrating them, by discriminating against all the people who are involved in that, and by trying to tarnish Press TV at some stage.
But they didn’t succeed. And the momentum grew from there in supporting Palestine – massively!
Now Palestine, as I mentioned once before, some sort of media poll was conducted during the call for recognition of Palestine in the United Nations. They found around 72 percent in the UK population are for the UK government to support the recognition of Palestine.
And I said did the UK government heed that call from the public. They didn’t, of course, which proves there is no democracy applied here.
So, they tried, and they are trying very hard to stop Press TV because it is part of enlightenment in here to the masses in empowering them in defending the just cause of Palestine.
Source: Press TV