Iran Dismisses ‘Argo’ As “Anti-Iran”, Pro-CIA
Iran’s culture minister blasted Argo, day after it won the Best Picture Oscar, calling it anti-Iranian and weak artistically. Iran’s state TV also called the movie “an advertisement for the CIA.” “This anti-Iran film lacks any artistic aspects and it is a very weak film from an artistic perspective and we don’t expect anything else from the enemy,” Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hosseini said, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency and reported by Reuters. Mehr called the Oscar “politically motivated” because first lady Michelle Obama joined Jack Nicholson via video link from Washington to help present the best picture award. Argo has not screened in any Iranian theaters but the movie has been widely available on bootleg DVDs in the black market in Tehran. The Iran hostage drama also won best film editing and best adapted screenplay.

I Want Your Love’ Banned In Australia
Travis Mathews co-directed Interior. Leather Bar with James Franco. The imagining of the 40 minutes that William Friedkin claims he was forced to cut from his 1980 film Cruising, to get an R rating, screened in an official selection at Sundance. Now Mathews is facing his own ratings quandary. The San Francisco filmmaker’s gay-themed drama I Want Your Love has screened in numerous festivals in the U.S. and internationally and is being released in the U.S. on DVD in March. But none of that held sway with the Australian Classification Board which banned the film ahead of its screenings next month in several queer festivals. Festival films usually are exempt from classification, but the board objected to its explicit sex scenes which, it deemed, lacked narrative context. The board said the film would have got an X rating and was thus ineligible to be exempted. is circulating a petition asking the board to overturn its decision. The film’s editor Bryan Darling posted a comment on’s website, declaring he finds it “appalling that a modern Western country would deny its citizens the fundamental right of free speech. Please take the time to examine the policies of your bureaucracy and let individuals decide what they feel about this film”. – Don Groves

HBO Asia Launches HBO GO
HBO Asia announced today that HBO Go will make its Asian debut in Hong Kong on February 28 and will be available free to now TV’s HBO subscribers1. HBO GO enables subscribers to view HBO original content on multiple devices including PCs, MACs, tables and mobile devices (iOS and Android). The service includes new episodes of award-winning HBO Original programs such as Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, True Blood, and Veep 12 hours after being shown in the US. HBO GO subscribers will have access to current HBO Original series as well as popular past series like Band of Brothers, Sex and the City, The Sopranos and Rome plus HBO movies, documentaries, comedies, family content, entertainment specials and more.

Depardieu Talks Up Chechnya As Location Destination
Sacré Gérard Depardieu. After officially registering as a resident in the Russian city of Saransk on Saturday, the actor headed over to the Chechen capital, Grozny. There, Reuters reports, he attended a reception with Ramzan Kadyrov, the same dictator whose birthday party was controversially attended by Hilary Swank in October 2011. Depardieu previously attended Kadyrov’s birthday last yhear and has now said he wants to make a movie in Chechnya. “I would really like to shoot a film here and show that it’s possible to do that here in Grozny, shoot a great film,” Depardieu told private broadcaster NTV, in comments aired on Monday, according to Reuters. “I can’t reveal all the details now, but we’ll come back here and this is only the beginning,” he said at the reception. Depardieu was given a Russian passport in January after he declared he was giving up his French papers following a skirmish in the press with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault over Depardieu’s plans to move to Belgium in what was perceived as a fiscal exile.

BBC Suggests China Is Blocking Radio Transmissions
In what the BBC says is the latest attempt to jam its services, shortwave broadcasts of World Service Radio are being
blocked in China, the corporation claims. The BBC said it was not possible to determine exactly where the jamming was coming from but it noted that the “extensive and coordinated efforts are indicative of a well-resourced country such as China.” The broadcaster said it “strongly condemns this action which is designed to disrupt audiences’ free access to news and information.” In other recent instances, the BBC says its transmissions by BBC Persian in Iran have been hit. BBC director of global news Peter Horrocks said, “The deliberate and coordinated efforts by authorities in countries such as China and Iran illustrate the significance and importance of the role the BBC undertakes to provide impartial and accurate information to audiences around the world.”

BBC Worldwide’s Showcase Event Kicks Off
The BBC Worldwide Showcase got under way on Sunday with 700 buyers sifting through the wares of the broadcaster’s commercial arm. Buyers from the Middle East and Africa acquired a host of new dramas and hobnobbed with stars of upcoming shows including Gabriel Byrne (Quirke) and Chris O’Dowd (Moone Boy). Israel’s IBA picked up period drama The Paradise and Call The Midwife, among other titles. Also in Israel, YES DBS acquired a drama package that includes Da Vinci’s Demons, The Fear and The Secret Of Crickley Hall. South Africa’s MNet licensed Ripper Street and Jane Campion limited series Top Of The Lake. Al Jazeera picked up seasons 5, 6 and 7 of Doctor Who and 200 hours of documentary, current affairs, science and natural history programming. Finally, OSN Dubai acquired the most recent seasons of Top Gear UK and Top Gear USA. The Showcase event is unique as the biggest of its kind hosted by a single distributor and reps about 20% of BBCWW’s annual sales.

Network Ten Incoming CEO Hamish McLennan Stresses Independence from News Corp.
If Hamish McLennan was expecting a smooth transition from being EVP in the office of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch to CEO of Australia’s Network Ten, he might need to prepare for a bumpy ride. McLennan has been forced to reject suggestions of anti-competitive links between News and Ten, whose chairman Lachlan Murdoch owns 9% of the broadcaster and is a director of News Corp. Last Friday Lachlan fired CEO James Warburton, who had been in the job for just over 12 months, and announced McLennan would take the reins on March 18. “I am resigning from News Corp and will become an employee of Ten,” said McLennan, who will continue as chairman of News Corp’s Australian real estate classifieds business REA Group. “They are completely different businesses. It’s not an issue. I am very aware of what my obligations are.” On Monday McLennan spent nearly $1 million of his own money, buying 3.13 million Ten shares. Headhunted from the Seven Network, Warburton seemed powerless to arrest steep declines in Ten’s share price, ratings and revenues, resulting in a $13 million annual loss in fiscal 2012. In November Lachlan Murdoch described the network’s performance as “unacceptable.” The board was forced to undertake two capital raisings last year, which massively diluted the share price.- Don Groves