Saturday Oct 15, 201111:21 AM GMT
'Ofcom to shut Press TV over alt. news'
Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:14AM
Interview with Lindsey German of Stop the War Coalition
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Britain's Office of Communications (Ofcom) has drawn criticism from the international spectators of Press TV following the British media regulator's decision to ban the law-abiding Iranian news network.

Ofcom's decision is considered to be an abuse of the UK media law and the result of lobbying by certain members of the royal family and government against the Iranian news channel.

Press TV has interviewed Lindsey German of Stop the War Coalition in London to further discuss the issue.

What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: If the problem lies with the coverage that Press TV has given, then viewers are able to still receive everything that we present is online on, after all, viewers are all tuned in today, and they will ultimately get the news one way or another. So what is the British government afraid of? It's not like they can suppress the news with this ruling.

Lindsey German: No well of course, they can't suppress the news. But this is what they are trying to do. I agree very much with Phil Reese. I find this an extraordinary decision by Ofcom. It is clearly not about administrative problems, any problems that could easily be ironed down. It is about stopping an alternative view being put. And of course, a whole range of issues.

Many, many people in Britain are dissatisfied with the mainstream media. And as you say, many of them go to the internet; go to different forums and social media in order to get their information.

Therefore you have a paradoxical situation today in Britain, and I guess in many countries. Where you have the situation in which people are not given this kind of information by the mainstream media. But nonetheless are well informed, from their own researches and so on.

I would just say, however, I think there is another very serious aspect of this here. Because it does seem to me, that this coming at the same time with this alleged plot in Washington, over the supposed assassination of the Saudi ambassador, and the accusation by the United States and by Saudi Arabia that the Iranian government is involved in this.

Seems to me, this latest announcement, coming at this time, is very, very wide. Because you do feel that this is part of a general club down, maybe greater sanctions, or maybe even worse this going on. So I think for all reasons, we should be very, very concerned about this.

Press TV: This suppressing, as it appears to be, goes against one of the general consensus of a democracy, and that's freedom of speech. So how will this backfire in terms of the perception by the people in the UK?

Lindsey German: Well of course. I think, for the people who know about it, will be very, very angry indeed. And as you say the only basic democratic right, must include the right for different points of views to be heard. This is what a democracy is about. And therefore, any genuine democracy would be able to have all these point of views.

The real problem I think is that we have a media, which I'm sorry to say, have a consensus, which is a very, very narrow consensus.

You have all the three main parties, are the parties which are represented, if at all, in the broadcast media. You don't hear from smaller parties, you don't hear from people who have a different point of view, most of the time.

Even thought, we know that for example, on the question of the Afghan war, more than 70% of the people in Britain opposed the war.

You wouldn't think so by looking at the television. The same is true about the economic crisis ... again, this is regarded as an extreme view by the BBC and other people so ... but many people don't really realize what is going on. They don't realize the way in which Ofcom is behaving, not for the first time, in a political way.

And it's something which is very, very much to be regretted. And I think it should be very much opposed by all of us who are in a position to say are do anything about this.

Press TV: According to the “handbook” which Ofcom follows, it only allowed to check BBC technical aspects, and not it's content. Is this not then a double standard?

Lindsey German: Well, I think that's what lots of people will think it is. Because there are many, many people that I know personally, and many other people I know, I know that there are huge numbers of people who complain to the BBC over a number of issues.

For example, the question of Palestine, the reporting of Palestine, the whole question of the Gaza protests. When in fact an academic study shows that the whole story was very disported by the BBC, which kind of made out that the Palestinians were the original aggressors.

So people complain about this.

And really, BBC is totally self-regulated and yet you have something like Ofcom, which really is used against a number of (sic) questions, and a whole lot of supposedly technical questions.

And I think it does raise a whole lot of questions about the media in this country.

But it does seem to be quite amazing, that when the big channels, the BBC, the commercial channels before had millions of people watching them, they have huge viewership's.

And it does seems to be an incredible thing that the British government seems to be intervening against a station which cannot compete in that kind of way, that doesn't have the access to mainstream media that the BBC has.

And it shows they are obviously very worried about the dissent.

Of course, the problem they have in Britain is that they have a growing dissent and a likelihood of a very, very big strike this autumn over the attack on public sector, pensions and other conditions of workers.

So there will probably be three million people out on strike in November, in a lot of demonstrations going on. These are worrying for the government which is using increasing police repression to deal with them, but also, this kind of method to try to contain anyone who tries to say something different.

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