'Ofcom controls what people should see'
Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:12AM
Interview with Danny Schechter, editor of Media Channel.org.
The British Office of Communication [Ofcom] has decided to take Press TV off air, saying the Network has made administrative errors in its license application back in 2007.
The regulator has also fined the Tehran based English news channel 100,000 British pounds. It is also taking steps to revoke Press TV's license in UK for what it called “Press TV's lack of control over the Channel's broadcast,” Charges that the media observers consider as mere pretexts for removing the news network off the air in UK.
Ofcom's decision [to remove Press TV off the Sky platform] had been previously mentioned in the WikiLeaks revelations.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Danny Schechter, award winning Television producer and editor of MediaChannel.org in New York who explains the intentions and motives behind Ofcom's decision regarding Press TV.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Confused about this, maybe you could tell us, or explain to us, Ofcom has also decided that it should remove the channel from the Sky platform under the pretext that the content of the programs, produced in Britain is supervised by the office in Tehran. But Press TV from the very outset announced that it is a Tehran based TV Channel.
Schechter: Well, you know all of these pretexts, all of these convoluted language, all of these administrative reasons really are about media suppression and media censorship. You know, Britain has a long history of media censorship, going back to the, most recently, to the IRA [Irish Republican Army] and to the Falkland's war.
Where you know information and news was censored, essentially allowing the British view to - British government's view- to be the dominant view. So this is an old play book, if you will. When you are involved in a conflict or a controversy with another state or another country, you do not want that country to be able in any way to influence your own subjects, your own people.
So you ban, or you distort or you suppress or you censor their coverage. And that is what this is about really. They do not want to have two points of view, they want to have their point of view as the only point of view and this is -you know- very clear that, even the British broadcasting, British world services, [are] funded by the British government, by the foreign affairs ministry.
Britain is not doing anything different than [from] what Iran is doing, but Britain is choosing to try to prevent an Iranian perspective or other perspectives from being heard.
I am not Iranian; I am not speaking on behalf of the government in Tehran. I find - and I am a media analyst in America- I find that Press TV has more diversity of perspective than most American channels.
Press TV: Press TV is not taking anything that is not already out there. Is that because they are elaborating more on certain things that are critical of British government, Danny Schechter? We can mention some, the brutality of police in dealing with students protest and of course the expenditure...
Schechter: Yes, of course I mean, of course that is all part of it here in America. They have been reporting very rigorously on [the] Occupy Wall Street and other dissenting movements. This doesn't make people in power very happy or very comfortable.
The last thing they want is for Americans to start following the news on Press TV or Aljazeera or RT or any other Channel that is not made and controlled in the United States. It is very interesting that their word is control, and control is a big brother concept. You know, who is controlling things, the idea is to basically program the audience to only accept one point of view. And we saw in the war in Iraq for example, that the coverage in Britain by the domestic channels was almost totally pro-war, while the British world service was more balanced, because it was competing with other international broadcasters.
This is about the role of media in our societies, and the way media often act as a basically a voice for government, it marches in lock step with government and so Ofcom's reaction here to try to silence Press TV because that is what it is. It really flows from that kind of imperative to try to control what people are allowed to see, what points of views they are allowed to be exposed to.
Press TV: Before you start Danny Schechter; really, let me just ask you this, you talked about suppression, our viewers online on PressTV.ir is hundred times more to what people are viewing on TV, so, you know, the suppression is not really going to work. People are going to tune in one way or another and of course PressTV.ir has everything that Press TV is talking about.
Schechter: You know, first of all understand it . Before you go to war against the country, you just do not plan a military war, you plan a media war. And that is what we saw in Iraq. A media war marching in tandem with the military conflict, with official briefers embedded, journalists and also some manipulation of news and information and the same pattern is repeating itself and recycling itself. Ofcom is a media regulator and it regulates not necessarily in interests of the public but in the interest of the media industry and that has not been mentioned here. It is all being assumed that it is a government that is behind everything and it probably is.
But the media companies also do not want the competition. They do not want other voices anymore than the government does and many of the people who are on the regulatory body come out of media organizations, where control and often collusion with government is very dominant.
So, we have to look at that, we also have to look at attempts to manipulate the internet, which are underway right now and many countries cyber war strategies.
So, this is something that all governments are doing. But the victim of it really is the public. The people themselves are not getting access to wide range of information that they really need to make decisions and to practice some semblance of democracy.