PoliticsHome displays PressTV ads

Lord Ashcroft's PoliticsHome is displaying ads from PressTV - does this reflect a new inclusive strategy for Iranian state media?

by The Commentator on 28 August 2012 15:19

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In 2009, Lord Ashcroft bought himself a little slice of the Westminster media pie called PoliticsHome.

The site is effectively an aggregator for everything politics, and contains its own editorial content and news monitoring sections.

In 2010, renowned Westminster journalist Paul Waugh ditched his digs at the London Evening Standard and shifted across to the PoliticsHome team where he runs the now famous ‘Waugh Room’.

But PoliticsHome’s growth seemingly has come at a price. One paid for by the Iranian government.

To claim that Ashcroft needs Iranian money is a bit on the loopy side, which is why The Commentator can see no reason as to why Ashcroft’s outfit is displaying adverts for the troubled PressTV outfit. 

PressTV, recognised as a mouthpiece for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime in Tehran, was rapped around the knuckles by Ofcom in the United Kingdom and eventually had its broadcast licence revoked in January 2012. On March 29th 2012, the HM Treasury Asset Freezing Unit listed "Zarghami, Ezztollah", the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting company on its sanctions list. A full list of the obligations can be found here.

A cable released by Wikileaks and dated Thursday 04 February 2010 shows the British government’s position towards Press TV and states “Licenses can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a license would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law. Currently, neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months, a case may be able to be made on the second criterion.”

Given that Press TV is no longer able to broadcast in the United Kingdom, it is clear that at least one of these conditions has now been met.

Sanctions on Tehran have been ramped up in an effort to persuade the Iranians to ditch their nuclear programme, but that hasn’t stopped the former Deputy Chairman of the main party in government taking cash for advertising space from the Iranian regime.

PRESS TV'S HISTORY OF CONTROVERSY

- August 2009, Ofcom ruled that Press TV shows had broken its broadcasting code on impartiality in their coverage of the Gaza War;

- September 2009, A Moroccan journalist accused PressTV of trafficking in 'fiction and fantasy' for spreading a story about a Jewish gang trading in body parts;

- By 2010 Press TV had been criticised for hosting interviews with Holocaust denial legitimisers or known anti-Semites;

- June 2012, A Press TV guest claimed that Jews were responsible for the financial crisis;

- An interview from 2010 showed an arrested journalist making a confession. The journalist, Maziar Bahari, said that before his 'confession' he was subjected to torture and following an investigation, Ofcom revoked Press TV's UK licence.

So why are PoliticsHome taking money from the Islamic Republic of Iran broadcasting company? As Andrew Gilligan noted when he left PressTV, “taking the Iranian shilling was inconsistent with my opposition to Islamism.” Are we to assume that PoliticsHome and its owners don’t share the same values?

The advert indeed directs through the Dods (parent company) server, linking to the following URL before redirecting to PressTV:

http://ads.dods.co.uk/www/delivery/ck.php?oaparams=2__bannerid=1867__zoneid=164__cb=84182bd005__oadest=http://www.presstv.com/

A source at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, within the Sanctions team, told The Commentator that each case needed to be looked up individually to decide as to whether it breached UK sanctions on Iran.

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