Letter to Boris Johnson: no to Iranian government Press TV ads on London Transport

In typical limp and un-self-efficacious manner, I left my last blog post on Press TV at that.

Update: for readers who can’t tell the difference between the critique below and a call for a ban, the above post contained a condemnation of Press TV’s content and a defence of its right to broadcast.

Update 2: A donation to Avaaz’s ‘Break the Blackout’ is one way you can genuinely give “a voice to the voiceless”.

Press TV’s paltry, and then anodyne, coverage of the aftermath of Iranian elections has clearly demonstrated its potential, as an English-language propaganda organ of a repressive Iranian government, to undermine the building of solidarity between imperilled reformists in Iran and their supporters in this country and abroad.

I speculate that Iranian Trade Unionists would feel the same. In the post before last I mentioned a few of those who are being held for no good reason in Iran’s Evin jail for political prisoners.

Here are Drink Soaked Trots with an open letter calling for the Press TV ads which have recently appeared on London Transport to be pulled, and here’s Principia Dialectica leafleting versions of the letter with significant interest from the small number of people who attended the last Stop The War – No! Not That One – Coalition meeting.

See my previous posts and links on Iran for reports of the clerical leadership’s enforcers persecuting trade unionists and closing down channels for free democratic expression. Press TV is an accessory to this, actively inhibiting international solidarity with affected Iranians by censoring all news of such occurrences. Not only has Press TV been largely silent about the violence and deep unrest in Iran since the elections but, still dining out on long-past wrongs committed against Iran by the Great Powers in the name of imperialism, it is attempting to deflect internal criticism outwards towards Israel and the US. Needless to say, Press TV has failed to even note, let alone mark, Global Solidarity Action Day for Iran. Search the Press TV site for the people mentioned in my last post, whose denied freedoms are widely echoed across the world by people who want a free, democratic, egalitarian Iran. Try a few different spellings. You’ll be lucky to find anything, because Press TV has ghosted these important reformists out of Iranian politics. Search for Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death has become emblematic of the danger faced by protesters. I can’t find anything with the spellings I’ve tried (the ones used by the BBC, CNN, etc).

Uh, perhaps Press TV’s search is a bit fucked? Trying Google for Neda site:http://www.presstv.ir/, we get “CIA involved in Neda’s shooting?”. Oh sure, that’s much more likely than pro-Ahmedinejad vigilantes – maybe it was also the CIA who went clouting and killing students at Tehran University, prompting a mass resignation of faculty? We get nothing for “Mostafa Tajzadeh“. Nothing for “Abdollah Ramezanzadeh“. Nothing for “Farzad Kamangar“. Nothing for “Mansour Osanloo“. I’ll stop there. Press TV is not a station that can answer questions from people who are really thinking about Iran.

The front page is some indication of Press TV’s priorities at time of writing; Israel is mentioned 5 times above the fold and 9 times in total. On the other hand, Press TV’s headlines for Iran – you would never know that the country had been gripped by a popular spasm for the past few weeks, now repressed on the streets and continued by power-holding clerical factions behind closed doors:

  • US, Israel behind Iran vote-rigging rumors: Ejei
  • Report: Iran to end gasoline subsidies
  • Press TV to air ‘War; American Style 2’

It is the epitome of propaganda to whitewash what is damaging to the interests of the power-holders in a regime, and vigorously promote stories which support the opinions the regime wants people to hold. Contrast that with British media’s proud (if sometimes awful) critique of government.

And as I said in my last, Press TV has no governance documentation on its site, no charter, no statement of values. This is reason enough to disregard it – it has no value in a country which values transparency in its institutions and news organs.

I don’t want to see these adverts for Press TV. It is a propaganda channel for a violent and repressive regime.

Here’s one version of the letter to end its advertising run on London Transport – a version I think benefits from less antipathy (no matter how justifiably in general) to George Galloway:

Mayor of London,
City Hall,
Queen’s Walk,
June 2009

Dear Mr Johnson

We are writing with reference to the advertising of Press TV on London buses and on the London Underground. You as chair of Transport for London as well as Mayor have overall responsibility for transport in the capital.

We are obliged to point out to you that Press TV is a propaganda station for the Iranian government. It is funded by that government and was launched by Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad personally in 2007. By allowing these advertisements Transport for London are giving implicit support to that government and helping to promote their propaganda.

It claims to give “voice to the voiceless.” Yet the events of the past few days have shown the true “voiceless” are not the Iranian government, who have a whole phalanx of nauseating apologists outside the country, but the Iranian people who are being bludgeoned and killed by the regime’s thugs for trying to make their voice heard.

At a time when Iran’s bus drivers union leaders are in jail, foreign journalists are expelled from Iran, Internet is clamped down and satellite TV stations outside Iran have their signals jammed, to have London buses carry Press TV ads with the motto of ‘we give voice to the voiceless’ is an insult to the Iranian people who are killed and beaten up for their desire for a freer society.

Yours sincerely,

Hat-tip MJP.

8 thoughts on “Letter to Boris Johnson: no to Iranian government Press TV ads on London Transport

  1. And the implication that criticising a TV channel like Press is racist because Press isn’t British is silly. This whacked-Galloway-admirer pigeon hole is rapidly acquiring a pigeon…

  2. Hi

    There were two versions one was the short and sweet one on Potkn’s blog. This had a dozen signatures and was done so something could be got in quickly. It was delivered on Monday.

    The full version is linked to here and was given by us to Galloway and his cronies personally. It was delivered yesterday and had more than 750 signatures, mainly from the Iranian embassy protests.



    Hope we will see the last of these ads from this disgusting TV station.

  3. yes please ban press TV from UK otherwise people will know the truth?
    and we don’t want that that is called free speech

  4. See comment 2. Press TV is revolting. Nobody is disputing that has its place – please read before you comment. But organisations who advertise it are promoting its revolting values. And so are you, Rizwan.

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