Britain fines Iran's Press TV
Britain's broadcasting watchdog said Thursday it had slapped Iran's Press TV with a heavy fine, leading the English-language channel to accuse the British royal family of trying to silence it.
Ofcom fined the state-run outlet £100,000 ($156,000, 117,000 euros) for showing an interview in 2009 with Maziar Bahari, an imprisoned journalist for US magazine Newsweek.
The regulator said it had also considered revoking the channel's licence but had instead decided to give it 35 days to transfer the licence to its Tehran headquarters from its London office.
An Ofcom spokesman said it was the biggest fine that it had imposed for the type of offence.
The independent regulator said Press TV had invaded Bahari's privacy while filming the interview without his consent while he was in detention during protests in Iran in 2009, and that its treatment of him was biased.
The announcement comes amid a diplomatic crisis following the storming of the British embassy in Iran, with the British government expelling all Iranian diplomats from London and closing its mission in Tehran.
Ofcom however said there was no political influence from Britain's Foreign Office on its decision not to revoke the Press TV licence.
"We reject any claims that we've been influenced by them (the Foreign Office)," the Ofcom spokesman told AFP.
The Iranian broadcaster accused the regulator of a "paradoxical" move and accused it of "threats to close down Press TV."
"Independent analysts say Ofcom is under mounting pressure from the British royal family to silence Press TV's critical voice," Press TV said in a statement on its website, which was posted on Tuesday.
"The British royal family exercises an overarching power over all branches in the political system of the country, including the government and the parliament, as well as on Ofcom."
Buckingham Palace was not immediately available for comment.
© 2011 AFP