Three years after the Iranian regime's English-language broadcaster, Press TV, plastered London's buses with an advertising campaign that billed the station as "giving a voice to the voiceless," Europe's airwaves have been abruptly closed to its propaganda offerings. Here's Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
A leading European satellite provider has taken 19 Iranian television and radio broadcasters off the air.
Satellite provider Eutelsat and media services company Arqiva said the decision has been made because of "reinforced" European Union sanctions aimed at punishing human rights abusers.
People in Iran still have access to most of the channels operated by Iranian state broadcaster IRIB, but the channels are no longer broadcast in Europe and elsewhere.
Iran's English-language Press TV, Farsi-language channels for Iranian expatriates, and Arabic-language offerings, including the news channel Al-Alam, are among the channels cut by the Eutelsat decision.
Not suprisingly, Press TV's own reaction to the decision was typically bombastic:
The move follows months of jamming of Iranian channels by European satellite companies. It also shows that the European Union does not respect freedom of speech, and spares no efforts to silence the voice of alternative media outlets.
Iranian news channels affected by the decision only aimed to break the West's monopoly on news broadcast by reflecting the voice of the oppressed people to the world.
The illegal move by Eutelsat SA, therefore, is a step to mute all alternative news outlets representing the voice of the voiceless.
The banishing of Press TV from Europe's television screens forms part of a wider sanctions package against both Iran and Syria that was implemented by the European Union today. As the Wall Street Journal points out, "The sanctions, aimed at forcing Tehran back to the negotiating table over the nuclear program, target Iranian financial institutions, trade, energy and shipping."
As welcome as this development is, it begs the question of why the European Union took so long to reach its decision. Reuters hazards a guess:
The EU has lagged the United States in imposing blanket industry bans because it is concerned not to punish ordinary Iranian citizens while inflicting pain on the Tehran government.
This type of vacillating has long characterized the EU's relationship with Middle Eastern tyrannies (the 27 member bloc is still resisting US entreaties to place Hezbollah on its list of proscribed terrorist organizations), which perhaps explains why the Nobel Peace Prize Committee deemed the EU worthy of this year's award. But even if we concede that the EU's concern about sanctions punishing ordinary Iranians is legitimate, how is that possibly a factor in determining whether the official broadcaster of an enemy state should be allowed to reach European citizens?
Indeed, since the infamous London bus campaign, the EU has bypassed several opportunities to shut down Press TV. It could have done so in 2009, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the presidential election — which would, incidentally, have been the perfect statement of solidarity with the Iranian opposition. It could have done so in 2011, when IAEA chief Yukiya Amano reported that the Iranians had been conducting research aimed at weaponizing their nuclear program. And it could have done so in July of this year, following the monstrous bomb attack on a group of Israeli tourists visiting the resort of Burgos in Bulgaria, an EU member state — but rather than heed American and Israeli intelligence reports that Iran and Hezbollah were behind the attack, the Europeans chose instead to give Tehran the benefit of the doubt.
As a result, the Europeans allowed the Iranians to transmit Press TV's programming with nary a whisper of protest. Anyone tuning in would have encountered, inter alia, a diet of Holocaust denial, 9/11 "inside job" theories, fawning profiles of obscurities like the American anti-Zionist propagandist Max Blumenthal, and a coterie of aspiring Lord Haw Haws — among them George Galloway, the British Islamist parliamentarian, Lauren Booth, the estranged sister-in-law of Tony Blair, and Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London – whose primary purpose was to fool British broadcasting regulators into thinking that Press TV's editorial base was in London, not Tehran.
Still, Press TV's masters can console themselves that while satellite transmission into Europe is no longer an option, there's always the Internet. The station, for example, maintains an active presence on YouTube. Now, as we know, the White House is not averse to leaning on YouTube when it comes to the "review" of "offensive" content; next time they make the call, therefore, they might want to flag Press TV.