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Iran’s PressTV Mimics Russian Talking Points on Ukraine

March 14th, 2022 14:42

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.