Iranian independent media is reporting that Iranian-backed PressTV is echoing Russian talking points on the Ukraine conflict. IranWire, a joint venture of a group of Iranian journalists in the Diaspora, has analyzed the main themes on Press TV since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stating that:
March 7, 2022, Since February 24, Iranian officials – from Khamenei himself to the Foreign Minister to hardline and IRGC-linked media outlets – have sung from a near-identical hymn sheet on the invasion. While not realistically able to repeat Putin’s fallacy about “Nazis” inside the country due to Iran’s own record of state-sponsored antisemitism, the Islamic Republic has seized on the idea that the conflict is the fault of NATO, the US and “the West”. In recent days, PressTV has enjoyed use of a slightly wider vocabulary to describe what is happening in Eastern Europe. Where other Iranian state-controlled outlets are seemingly briefed to refer to it as a “crisis”, PressTV’s headlines were describing the invasion as a “broad offensive” by Russia at least as far back as seven days ago. However, in its headlines – the most impactful part of an article in the social media age, where news items are often widely shared without being fully read – PressTV has also paid disproportionate attention to US interventions in the conflict. The titles have tended to sideline public denunciations of Russia, sanctions and weapons shipments to Ukraine from member states of the European Union. Instead, an item on Sunday declared: “Risk of close encounter between US, Russian forces”: framing the invasion as an indirect stand-off between Washington and Moscow.
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The analysis highlights the importance of Press TV in spreading such messages, adding that it has 3.8 million likes on its English Facebook page, tens of thousands of followers across its extant Twitter accounts, and a newly-reborn website – presstv.ir, after its former website – presstv.com was seized by the US authorities. All this, following the recent disabling of the Facebook page of the international Iranian Arabic language channel Al-Alam, “at a time when tech giants including Google, Facebook, and Twitter have purged a welter of official accounts for spreading disinformation about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Press TV is part of the media structure of the Iranian influence network. It was founded in 2007 and is sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Iran’s state-run television operation. Press TV had its UK broadcasting license revoked in January 2012 by British communication’s regulator Ofcom, which found that the channel was running its editorial from Tehran and not the UK, thus breaching the Communications Act. In the UK, the channel is directed by film director and writer Hamid Khairoldin, who is also tied to other pro-Iranian media outlets. A 2015 report by the US Anti-Defamation League details various antisemitic themes and conspiracy theories promoted in its programs. In August 2021, Press TV had its website seized by the US Justice Department.