Media and Press
Iranian politics, and indeed the Iranian people, are full of contradictions. Iran today has a vibrant, open media which spans a wide political spectrum. But the government is far from tolerant. It has no qualms about shutting down newspapers or spending heavily on filtering software to block websites and blogs with content not to its liking. Many current, upcoming and former civilian and military leaders maintain a prominent presence in hard copy as well as digital media. At the same time there are many independent publications. There are upwards of 50 daily, weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines in Tehran alone. Many of these have online, digital versions as well. But to remain relatively independent, most seek and maintain the support of a powerful figure or Islamic institution in order to survive in the suppressive political climate.
And against all odds, in the virtual world, Iranians reportedly rank among the top five with over 700,000 blogs (2007 figures). Iranian media covers a wide ideological spectrum. From the theological school at Qom who engage willingly in virtual theological or political discourse, to Intellectuals and students who openly voice their discontent and make their views known, and the "modern" youth who are less interested in politics and more in the social scene, music, economic aspects of life, arts and the like.
What has helped to the growth and the relative openness of the media is the division within the political system. There are multiple centers of power vying for more influence and control, the most important and powerful being the "Supreme Leader". In the Middle East, Iranian print media would probably rank behind Israeli and Turkish media in openness, variety and maturity.
All Iranian broadcast media is government controlled. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting "IRIB" —with a budget around one billion USD— broadcasts multiple radio and television channels locally for domestic consumption as well as globally via satellite. IRIB also produces Al Alam television, a very powerful and popular Arabic channel broadcast to the Middle East. Then there is Press TV, an online news organization and television broadcasting in English. The current administration has aggressively followed a policy of privatization. The government has divested almost all its industrial holdings and much of its services. If central power begins to erode and at some point social and political reforms begin, there is a very good chance that the broadcast channels would also be privatized.
Print Press, all media (Radio & TV services), including Internet communications need to be guided and managed independent of government, to reflect a free press for the benefit of public. An independent commission can be appointed by the parliament to oversee the operation and policymaking process of this independent branch of the government. Budget for this branch and regulations will be setup by this commission, and shall be approved by the parliament.
Feedback, Comments, or Questions?
Do you have comments or questions about this article? And/Or would you like to participate in extending or enhancing this document?
Then please get in touch, at INPG we are always happy to hear from you!