BBC shot

BBC clarifies reports of the detention of filmmakers in Iran who had sold film rights to the broadcaster's Persian channel

Credit: By Coffee Lover on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

The BBC has confirmed that six filmmakers detained in Iran were not staffers for the broadcaster, but that its Persian channel had bought the rights to films produced by the independent documentary makers.

Reports emerged yesterday in the Iranian state press that a group of filmmakers allegedly working for the BBC had been arrested in Iran,
accused of providing content to the broadcaster's Farsi language service which portrayed the country negatively.

In a statement released late yesterday the BBC confirmed that the detainees are independent documentary filmmakers and that BBC Persian television channel has bought the rights to broadcast their films on its documentary showcase programme.

In a statement BBC Global News controller of languages Liliane Landor said the actions were considered "part of ongoing efforts by the Iranian government to put pressure on the BBC for the impartial and balanced coverage by its Persian-language TV of events in Iran and the wider region".

"It is common practice for television channels to buy broadcast rights to independent films," she added.

"This is certainly the case with BBC Persian whose acclaimed documentary showcase buys the broadcast rights to tens of documentaries from independent Iranian filmmakers each year. These films were independently produced and had not been commissioned by BBC Persian."

She added that "our thoughts are with the filmmakers and their families".

The broadcaster also said that its Persian channel has been subject to "increasing and aggressive jamming" from within Iran, with interference building on Saturday (17 September) at the same time the channel started broadcasting a documentary about the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

The BBC's director of global news Peter Horrocks has previously called for the jamming to be ceased.

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