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Press TV
PressTV.png
Launched July 2, 2007
Owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting[1][2]
Language English
Broadcast area Worldwide
Headquarters Tehran, Iran
Website presstv.com and presstv.ir
Availability
Satellite
Optus D2
Pacific Rim
12706 / 22500 / 3/4 V
AsiaSat 3S
South Asia
12352 / 30000 / 3/4 V
AsiaSat 2
South Asia
3660 / 27500 / 3/4 V
Intelsat 10
Africa & Europe
12682 / 26657 / 1/2 H
Intelsat 902
Middle East
11555 / 27500 / 3/4 V
Arabsat 2B
Middle East
12644 / 3000 / 3/4 H
Badr C
Middle East
3880 / 27500 / 3/4 R(H)
Badr 4
Middle East
12054 / 27500 3/4 V
Hot Bird 8
Europe
12437 / 27500 / 3/4 H
Hispasat 1C
Latin America
12172 / 27500 / 3/4 H
Galaxy 19
North America
12053 / 22000 / 3/4 V
Eurobird 1
Europe
12691 / 27500 / 2/3 H
Sky Digital Channel 515
Internet television
Press TV Free, 300 Kbps
Free, 500 Kbps
Press TV Video on Demand
(free Windows Media stream)
Livestation Free, 502 Kbit/s
VDC Channel 206

Press TV is an English language television network that carries news, analysis, documentary, talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on the Middle East. It is owned by the IRIB. Its main headquarters are located in the Iranian capital, Tehran, but it also airs programmes from its worldwide bureaus, particularly those based in Beirut (Lebanon), Damascus (Syria), London (UK), Seoul (South Korea), and Washington, D.C. (USA).

Press TV is available in most parts of the world via at least ten satellites, as well as cable and Internet.

It is free-to-air for almost all of its viewers, although some cable companies include it on their platforms. Live video, audio, and FLV streaming is also available on its website.

Contents

History of Website and Satellite TV Launch

The channel's website launched in late January 2007.[3] Test satellite transmissions were conducted in late April 2007. The launch date for the channel was July 3, 2007.[4] On March 18, 2009, Press TV launched a new website with a modified graphical user interface.[5]

Funding and Management

Press TV is state-funded[6] and is a division of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

The annual budget of Press TV is 250 billion Rials (more than 25 million US dollars).[7]

Press TV broadcasts news reports and analyses which are close to the official position of the Iranian government, and its programmes are monitored and regulated by the Islamic Republic.[8][9] Although there have been attempts to establish private, independent media outlets in Iran, notably by former Iranian Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, the 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic mandates that "all broadcasting must exclusively be government-operated."[10]

Availability and viewership

Press TV's website has three URLs: www.presstv.ir, www.presstv.com and www.presstv.co.uk. There is another website which belongs to Press TV's bureau in Beirut, but the whole website is in Persian. It can be accessed at www.presstvbeirut.com.

Press TV is free-to-air and is available via at least 13 satellites worldwide. This has enabled Press TV to be easily accessed by technically anyone who uses a satellite receiver to watch television programmes.[11]

A video archive of Press TV's selected programs is also available on its website.[12]

Although there has been a ban on using satellite dishes in the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1995, Press TV is available in some Iranian homes because many Iranian families defy the ban and watch satellite TV programmes alongside or instead of the official state television channels.[13][14][15][16]

Although the channel has never provided any statistics on viewership, in May 2009 Press TV CEO Mohammed Sarafraz claimed that "the number of Press TV's viewers is increasing on a daily basis."[17]

Coverage

Press TV offers round-the-clock news bulletins every half-hour, a series of repeating commentary programmes and roundtable panel discussions, as well as documentary-style political films. In May 2009, Press TV CEO Mohammed Sarafraz announced that Press TV would “provide viewers with more newscasts while cutting down on its news analysis programs.” [17]

Press TV was created for the purpose of presenting news, images and arguments, especially on Middle Eastern affairs, to counter the news coverage that appears on broadcasts such those of BBC World, CNN International and Al Jazeera English.[18]

Press TV has been praised for airing programs about under-reported stories around the world.

By launching an English-language television channel to promote an Iranian perspective of the world, together with an Arab-language station, the Al-Alam News Network, the Iranian government hoped “to address a global audience exposed to misinformation and mudslinging as regards the Islamic Republic of Iran."[19] The two networks focus on "difficult issues in the Middle East such as the United States’ occupation of neighbouring Iraq and the Shiite question."[10]

Press TV's news bulletins often feature Iranian ministers, diplomats or government officials, or guest commentators that are able to express views consistent with the Iranian government's "message of the day."[20][21][22][23][24] Opposition political figures such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have not appeared on Press TV since the June 2009 presidential election.[25]

Press TV devotes considerable space on its website and time on air to criticism of Israel. It has been accused of promoting of Holocaust denial. On the subject of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), an editorial on the Press TV website noted, "On this anniversary, we all need to mull over the faking of history and the Greatest Lie Ever Told."[26] The station has been criticized for giving a platform to conspiracy theorists and radical political activists.[27][28]

Press TV frequently broadcasts programs and publishes articles on the topic of "Islamophobia" and alleged discrimination against Muslims in Western countries.

Personnel

Press TV CEO Mohammad Sarafraz announced[29] at the broadcast channel's launch press conference that Press TV intended to have correspondents in London, New York, Washington, Beirut, Damascus, Beijing, Moscow and several other European capitals, as well as four correspondents covering the Israel-Palestine conflict from Gaza, Ramallah and Jerusalem. Sarafraz went on to claim that most of Press TV's foreign-based staff and free-lance correspondents were non-Iranians, and included many Britons as well as some Americans. Mr Sarafraz said training had been provided by "a BBC employee."[29]

Iran Staff

Press TV discussion programs, which often included controversial and non-Iranian guests, have been scaled back in favor of "news bulletins" in recent months. Press TV CEO Mohammed Sarafraz explained that "our experience tells us that pictorial reflection of news and the use of images are more effective than discussion and analysis."[17]

News anchors have included: Kaveh Taghvae, Arash Zahedi, Said Pourreza, Hassan Tavakoli, Nargess Moballeghi, Bardia Honardar, Sheena Shirani, Waqar Rizvi, and Kaneez Fatima. Also anchoring Sports International news in Tehran is Junot Castelyn.

Amir Arfa hosts a Press TV media criticism show called "Fine Print." Arfa's show used to feature live debates among guests appearing by satellite, a format that has fallen out of favor with the station's management.[17] Afra admitted that his guest roster is skewed, but blamed this on the reluctance of media organizations to allow their reporters to appear on Press TV, even when the reporters themselves are willing. "If the lineup of guests seems lop-sided, its not our fault," Afra said in an interview published by independent journalist Renee Feltz. "We try hard to have a balanced show, but the mainstream media shuts you out."[30]

The UK Staff

Roshan Muhammed Salih is Press TV's London news editor and chief correspondent.[31] Other London correspondents who have appeared on Press TV include Fareena Alam and Hassan Ghani. Matthew Richardson, Press TV's Legal Adviser in London,[31] has attracted attention for his appearances on other television outlets to defend Press TV's coverage of contentious matters such as the Iranian election protests.[32]

One of Press TV's presenters is Yvonne Ridley, the former Al Jazeera[33] and Sunday Express journalist who converted to Islam after being captured by the Taliban in 2001.[29] Another is George Galloway, a British member of parliament and the head of RESPECT party.

Andrew Gilligan is a journalist working for Press TV in London. He is known in England for his work on a controversial 2003 report about a British government briefing paper on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction (the September Dossier) while working for BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme as its defense and diplomatic correspondent. He felt compelled to resign from the BBC when that report came under fire for reliance on unreliable sources.[34] Recently, Mr. Gilligan has been criticized for allegedly creating fake online identities to praise and defend his work, a practice known as "sockpuppeting."[35] He now produces and presents "Forum" on Press TV.

Tariq Ramadan presents a show entitled "Islam & Life" broadcast from the London bureau.

Amina Taylor presents "Between the Headlines" and Derek Conway MP presents "Epilogue". Regular contributors include James Whale and antiwar activist Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of Tony Blair.

Max Keiser, a financial journalist, hosts a show entitled "On the Edge" for Press TV.[36]

North American Staff

Since the United States government currently maintains a set of comprehensive trade and economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran,[37] Press TV's only official presence in the United States is at the United Nations. In 2007, journalist Frank Ucciardo,[38] using the "broadcast name" Jonathan Martin, established Press TV's United Nations news bureau. The current Press TV UN bureau chief is Michael Mazzocco.[39] Mr. Mazzocco has also been involved in establishing an unofficial but very active Press TV bureau in Los Angeles, from where Ross Frasier has reported on topics such as global warming and anti-war protests.[40]

Press TV also maintains a presence in the United States through intermediary companies. "American Dream," produced in Washington, DC by Atlantic Television News (ATN),[41] is a once-a-week broadcast that focuses on the dark underside ("warts and all") of American life. It has been hosted by Mark Levine, who quit the show after alleging editorial interference; Elliott Francis; Ibrahim Hooper (Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations), and Brian Becker (head of A.N.S.W.E.R. and the International Action Center.[42][43]

"Autograph", Susan Modaress' new interview program, has mostly been filmed "on location" in the United States. Modaress has interviewed prominent people such as anti-Israel academics Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky for that program.[44] She has also interviewed former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski for a program called "Face to Face."[45][46] Susan Modaress has also done general assignment reporting from New York on issues ranging from a cigarette tax increase in New York to a Society of Ethical Culture forum on "Obama and the Imperial Presidency."[47][48]

Michael Mazzocco reports for Press TV from the United Nations.[39] Other reporters working with Mazzocco in New York include Ataf Konja and Julie Walker. Colin Campbell, Rhonda Pence, Jihan Hafiz, Erin Connors, Mike Kellerman, and Ernie Cruise have filed reports from Washington, DC.[40][49]

Roxane Assaf has filed reports from Chicago.[40]

Press TV's Canadian correspondent is Zahra Jamal, who is based in Vancouver.[50]

Other Correspondents and Staff Around the World

Press TV has correspondents across East and South-East Asia including Shahana Butt, who reports from Indian Administered Kashmir.[51] Aamer Trambu is Press TV's news and current affairs correspondent from New Delhi.[52]

Shireen Yassin has reported from "Jerusalem al-Quds". Other recent correspondent reports were filed by Preethi Nallu from Copenhagen; Mohammed Abd Elmonem from Cairo; Christine Legault from Rome.[40]

Ali Rizk is Press TV's Beirut news director. Other staffers in Lebanon include correspondent Serena Shim, a Lebanese-American who was born in Detroit, and Sara Moussa, a producer who lived previously in the US.[53]

Svetlana Korkina is Press TV's correspondent in Moscow.[54]

Staff Controversy

Journalist Mark Levine says that he was promised editorial control of his show, "The American Dream". However, in September 2007, when Levine decided to broadcast a show on Ahmadinejad's UN visit that included noted Persian scholars who had expressed criticism of Ahmadinejad, he alleges that he was blocked from doing the program at the last minute: "One hour before the show was scheduled to air live, the show was cancelled with no explanation given. I was later told that Press TV would not allow me to discuss the topic." Shortly after that, Levine was fired from his job.[55] Levine alleged that anti-Semitism also may have played a role in his firing: "I also believed my being Jewish may have played a role in the firing, given the shock, surprise, and horror manifested by the producer who hired me when she discovered my religious faith."[56]

Press TV Afghanistan correspondent Fayez Khurshid alleged on Press TV in October 2007 that he was detained, tortured and threatened by American forces in Kabul.[57]

Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian free-lance reporter who had worked for Press TV as a correspondent in Baghdad, was kidnapped in Somalia on August 23, 2008. Upon payment of ransom allegedly in the amount of $600,000, Ms. Lindhout was safely released in November 2009.[58]

George Galloway's broadcasts on Press TV have been criticized by British broadcast authority Ofcom for "breaching impartiality rules." In its report, Ofcom cited complaints about Galloway's January 2009 programs on Gaza alleging that Galloway's broadcasts "failed to put both sides of the argument in relation to the situation in Gaza; constituted Iranian propaganda; and that George Galloway in particular did not conduct a balanced discussion on the issue of Gaza."[28] In a 2008 episode of "The Real Deal," Galloway took on David Henshaw over his documentary "Undercover Mosque," in which British Muslims expressed the intention "to kill homosexuals and apostates" (non-believers). Galloway defended their right to make such threats on grounds of religious freedom.[59]

Nick Ferrari, a leading British radio presenter, quit his show on Press TV on 30 June 2009, following the response of the country's authorities to protests over the disputed Iranian presidential election. Ferrari told The Times that Press TV’s news coverage had been “reasonably fair” until the election — but not any longer.[60]

In August 2009, Tariq Ramadan, host of "Islam and Life" on Press TV, was terminated from his position as a guest lecturer at Erasmus University Rotterdam, after the university’s board decided that his “indirect relationship with a repressive regime” was unacceptable. Ramadan, who also holds a position at the University of Oxford, is considering legal action against the university.[61]

Shahab Mossavat, a former CNN International anchor, hosted news updates and "4 Corners" (a daily roundtable discussion of international events) on Press TV. Mossavat was one of the most articulate and recognizable faces on the network, and served as Press TV's spokesman beginning in 2007. His program was cancelled shortly before the 2009 Presidential election, and Mr. Mossavat was arrested the day after the election for alleged participation in demonstrations protesting election fraud. In an August 28, 2009 interview on Public Radio International, Mr. Mossavat, who now lives in London, spoke about his experiences in detention: "I saw many people maltreated – brutally treated – tortured physically, psychologically. I didn’t see any sexual abuse but I did certainly see physical abuse. I saw people whose noses had been smashed so much so that they were flattened into their faces."[62]

In September 2009, it was revealed in a Times of London article that Hassan Abdulrahman, born David Theodore Belfield, one of the chief editors of the Press TV website from the beginning of Press TV's news department, is a fugitive wanted in the United States. Abdulrahman, who has also used the alias Dawud Salahuddin, is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for shooting dead at point-blank range Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former press attache at the pre-revolutionary Iranian embassy in Washington. The Iranian government provided money and airfare to Tehran to Mr. Belfield after he committed the murder. The Times of London also reported Abdulrahman's claim that he left as chief online editor in July 2009 after the election in protest at Press TV's skewed coverage of that event.[63][64 ][65] The Times quoted Abdulrahman as saying, “No, I don’t think Press TV is about [real journalism]. By its nature, state journalism is not journalism. They have some programmes on there that might be, but generally it’s not.”[63][64 ]

Current programmes

  • Africa Today - Analytical weekly review of political, economic and social events in Africa, the world's second largest continent.
  • The Agenda - A political commentary show hosted by Yvonne Ridley formerly broadcast on the Islam Channel.[29]
  • American Dream - A political roundtable offering a "warts-and-all" picture of life in the USA from ghettos to gated communities.
  • Autograph - A 25min weekly interview with academics, authors, politicians and dignitaries encompassing a range of topics from cultural to political issues hosted by Susan Modaress.[66]
  • CinePolitics - A weekly 25-minute show, hosted by the Emmy-nominated film-maker Russell Michaels. The show examines current cinematic releases, and explores the underlying political and social issues that shape them.
  • Comment - A live show from London hosted by George Galloway. The format allows a studio audience to ask the presenter questions or argue with him.
  • East Asia Now - "Piercing questions, challenging experts, backed up by other opinions, statistics, as well as comments and questions from correspondents on East Asian stories."[67]
  • Fine Print - A twice-weekly analysis of on-line mainstream media hosted by Amir Arfa.
  • Forum - A debate programme presented by the former BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, featuring Nick Ferrari and others.
  • Iran - A 25-minute weekly show covering topical issues on Iran plus reports and interviews on major cultural events held in the country over the week. The show is hosted by Setareh Ghane.
  • Iran Today - a show aired 5 times a week examining various issues about Iran in the presence of a panel of guests. The show was called-out by digital-ed.com[68] on July 8, 2009, alleging manipulation of an interview through selective editing.
  • Islam & Life - A weekly show presented by Tariq Ramadan in London, dealing with the challenges and opportunities facing Muslims, especially in the west.
  • Middle East Press - A daily review of regional newspapers, highlighting views on issues impacting the region, hosted by Nadine Mazloum and Serena Shim in Beirut.
  • The Real Deal - A wide-ranging weekly show by George Galloway.
  • Remember the Children of Palestine - A weekly 1-hour show hosted by Lauren Booth and Amina Taylor covering issues that concern children living in Palestine, including music, films, photos, poems and artwork made in aid of their remembrance.
  • Reporters' File - A weekly reportage-oriented programme, dealing with various Iranian and world stories, from a local correspondent's perspective. The show is produced & hosted by Joobin Zarvan.

Former programmes

  • Between the Headlines - A review of the day's headlines hosted by Mark Watts, Lauren Booth, Afshin Rattansi, Amina Taylor and Jan Fossgard, aired live from London.
  • Canon - A 25-minute weekly show debating the legal perspective on the social and political issues around the world.
  • Energy World - A 25-minute weekly show, dealing with current energy issues together with their political undercurrents, presented by former Russia Today host Amanda Burt.
  • Epilogue - A 25-minute weekly programme on literature, featuring interviews with writers and critics, hosted by Derek Conway, Bob Stewart, Hugo de Burgh and James Whale.
  • Euro Focus - Presented by Roshan Muhammed Salih and Fareena Alam, offers a weekly round-up of news and features from all over Europe.
  • Four Corners - 25 minutes of live daily news commentary panel discussion, hosted by Shahab Mossavat, Joobin Zarvan and Nargess Moballeghi, broadcast from Tehran. The show covers critical news stories from across the globe.
  • Hart of the Matter - A show where the veteran broadcast journalist Alan Hart goes searching for the truth of matters by engaging a host of intellectuals, investigative journalists and activists, among others, in conversation.
  • Hearts and Minds - 45 Minute Panel Discussion on U.S. Foreign Policy hosted by Stephanie Woods. "Hearts and Minds," a foreign policy discussion show, was produced in New York City by Policy in Picture productions. For several months, "Hearts and Minds" was presented by Alan Weisman (former producer of the Charlie Rose Show, and author of biographies of retired CBS newsman Dan Rather and defense expert Richard Perle).[69] After Weisman, hosting duties were taken over by former "4 Corners" presenter Susan Modaress,[70] who later hosted her own program, "Autograph."[71] Stephanie Woods, a former reporter for the MTV News political news program Street Team '08[72], assumed the role of host in June of 2009 until the program's last broadcast on September 30.[73]
  • Middle East Today - 25 minutes of daily panel discussion on the region's most news-making events, broadcast live from Tehran, formerly hosted by Chris Gelken and Joobin Zarvan and now presented by Marziyeh Hashemi. The show is also aired on weekends, from Beirut by Mariam Saleh and Marlin Dick and Zeinab Safar.
  • Minbar - A weekly Q&A about Islam presented by Ahmad Haneef.
  • Off The Cuff - Another audience-driven programme hosted by James Whale and Mike Mendoza. The show focuses on controversial issues where the presenter asks the questions around the theme and the audience express their views.
  • Outside the Box - A weekly 25-minute show hosted by Tina Richards.
  • Women's Voice - A programme made by women for women. The show scrutinizes the status of women in the West and deals with their common issues, challenges and upheavals.
  • World Week Watch - Half-hour round-up of world events by Oscar Reyes and Kristiane Backer.

Controversy

The UK newspaper The Guardian described Press TV as "the controversial 24-hour news channel funded by the Iranian government."[74] Some of the controversy is intentional, since the Iranian government established the network partly in order to counter negative reports about Iran and Islam in Western media outlets. However, Press TV has been criticized by some (see below) for biased and erroneous reporting, for manufacturing fake stories, and for an antisemitic approach to the news.

Press TV propaganda aims

At the beginning of July 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech on the occasion of the inauguration of Press TV’s broadcast operations. In that speech, he said, "Disseminating correct and timely news, and presenting correct analyses and disclosing behind scene of the mankind's enemies propaganda networks are among new TV's basic duty." Ahmadinejad added that “the message of media is the same as that of the prophets,” and insisted that "our media should be fully free from all vices that have polluted the world."[75]

Mohammad Sarafraz (Deputy Head of IRIB and PTV CEO), said in a June 2007 press conference that, "Since September 11, Western bias has divided the media into two camps: those that favor their policies make up one group and the rest of the media are attached to radical Islamic groups like Al-Qaeda. We want to show that there is a different view. Iran, and the Shi'ites in particular, have become a focal point of world propaganda. From the media point of view, we are trying to give a second eye to Western audiences."[76]

In June 2007, Al-Jazeera Press reported on what reporter Emile Tayyip called the Bush administration's "black propaganda campaign against Iran." Press TV's broadcast operations were launched in the context of this "information war" unleashed by the US government.[77]

Press TV vigorously promotes the development of the Iranian nuclear program.[78][79][80]

Allegations of bias and error

Press TV has been widely criticized for brazenly promoting the Islamic Republic's propaganda line overseas, often at the expense of the truth.[81][82][83] In a post-election "information offensive," reports the Associated Press, Press TV and Al-Alam have "churned out a blitz of policy statements, negotiating points and news breaks as the main soapboxes for Iran's public diplomacy."[84]

In 2007, the conservative Canadian weekly Maclean's, while noting that "most of Press TV's news reports are factually accurate," alleged that Press TV also publishes "intentional errors," citing a story on the Press TV website that contained the claim, based on "no evidence," that the Lebanese government is trying to convert the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp into an American military base. "[85]

In July 2009, Dominic Lawson, a columnist for the Sunday Times of London, criticized Press TV for broadcasting the "confession" of a Canadian-Iranian journalist "without a scintilla of skepticism." He also criticized British journalists and politicians for appearing on Press TV and for giving a forum to Holocaust deniers. Lawson said they are "being paid to lend credibility to the propaganda arm of a regime that subjects its own journalists to the most brutal 'political interference.'"[86]

In August 2009, Ofcom, the British broadcasting regulator, judged that certain shows on Press TV had broken its broadcasting code on impartiality in their coverage of the Gaza War.[87]

Rania Masri, who was featured together with Paul Craig Roberts (who has written of the "scientific impossibility" of the official explanation for the events on 9/11)[88] and Danny Schechter on a Press TV show marking the eighth anniversary of 9/11, commented on her blog, “Danny Schechter is right: even such a limited conversation, as was had on Press TV, cannot be heard on mainstream/corporate US press.”[89]

Press TV's website has been plagued with problems that call its reliability into question. On December 27, 2007, Press TV reported that demonstrators in Iran marched through the streets of Tehran carrying signs (in English!) saying "I Love Jews," citing this as evidence that there is no anti-Semitism in Iran. "The People's Cube" website, source of this spoof that Press TV reported as news, had this explanation for why Press TV was taken in by such an obvious prank: "You have been lying for so long that you lost the ability to distinguish between truth and fiction."[90][91]

Allegations of antisemitism

The Jerusalem Post,[92] together with outlets such as Searchlight Magazine,[93] have criticized Press TV for publishing, on its official website, an article The Walls of Auschwitz: A Review of the Chemical Studies claiming that the Auschwitz gas chambers were used for "benign" purposes only; the article was written by the British science historian, Holocaust denier and conspiracy theorist Nicholas Kollerstrom.

In a September 15, 2009 article entitled "Incendiary Press Reporting," Moroccan journalist Hassan Masiky criticized Press TV for trafficking in "fiction and fantasy" by circulating a suspect story about "an alleged Jewish gang trading in “body parts” and abduction of Algerian children towards Morocco."[94]

References

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