April 6, 2012
It was through a simple email sent to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) officials that the Media Regulatory Office (MHA) based in Munich notified of the decision to remove the Iranian English-speaking channel Press TV from German airwaves.
The authority has claimed that Iran’s English-speaking channel does not have a license for broadcast in Europe.
This shutdown comes after Press TV was banned in Great Britain in January 2012 by Ofcom, the government-approved media regulatory authority.
On its part, the channel believes the decision is part of a strategy by Westerners to silence an inconvenient voice.
Press TV drew the attention of the UK public in particular for its coverage of the Occupy protest movement in the United States and Britain, as well as for offering viewers a different perspective on the offensive launched against Libya or Syria.
Voltaire Network recalls that freedom of expression is a prerequisite for any democracy. It can only be restricted by law. Now, in this case, censorship does not stem from a court ruling following the commission of crimes or offenses, but from a simple administrative decision of an obvious political nature.
The Lebanese news channel Al-Manar was taken off the air in a similar manner, first in France, then in all Western states. At the time, Al-Manar had been accused of broadcasting an anti-Semitic program, but the examining magistrate never succeeded in establishing the charge and the case was not pursued. Ultimately, it was the Conseil d’Etat (i.e. the administrative court, not criminal court) which banned the channel alleging reasons of public order disturbances in connection with the controversy sparked by the accusation of antisemitism, in spite of the fact that it could never be substantiated.
Successive administrative bans in Europe, over the last six years, of Lebanese, Palestinian, Libyan, Syrian and Iranian news channels illustrate the inability of the European Union to address the issue other than to resort to censorship and propaganda and by forsaking the most basic principles of democracy.
Such administrative bans slammed on Middle East television channels clearly aim to prevent EU citizens from gaining a different perspective on the conflicts in this region, even though wars are being contemplated in which Europeans would be brought in. In this sense, such measures are in breach of resolutions 381 and 819 of the United Nations General Assembly, which make it mandatory for Member States to “remove barriers that prevent peoples the free exchange of information and of ideas essential to understanding and international peace.”