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Iran: BBC launches new Persian TV channel

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Western Europe, Iran, United Kingdom, Arts & Culture, International Relations, Language, Media & Journalism

The launch of BBC Persian TV [1] on January 14, attracted praise, enthusiasm, suspicion [2], and in one word: attention! Iranian bloggers are expressing their opinions on this new channel, and they are as diverse as ever.

While some consider that the new channel can play a role [3]in bridging disagreements between the United States and Iran, the Iranian authorities called it a threat [4]to national security.

So far, the Iranian government has refused permission for BBC Persian TV to have an office in Iran, although the Islamic Republic run Press TV [5] itself has an office in London.

BBC Persian TV provides 8 hours of daily programming for the Persian-speaking world. It draws not just on the worldwide news gathering resources of the whole BBC, but also on its own Persian-speaking correspondents in Washington, Jerusalem, Beirut, Islamabad, Istanbul, Dushanbe and Kabul.

Here is a promotional trailer for BBC Persian TV. The voiceover promises, “Music, and more than music”:

LegoMahi, a blogger and designer says [6] [fa]:

کیفیت تولید بالای برنامه های تلویزیونی بی بی سی من رو مثل همه کسان دیگری که برنامه های هفته اول شروع این تلویزیون رو دیدند ذوق زده کرده.همونطور که مثلا دیدن یک هتل 5 ستاره، یا یک استادیوم مدرن، یا یک پلاژ تمیز، یک باسکین رابینز “واقعی”، یا یک فروشگاه یا سوپرمارکت بزرگ در ایران آدم رو متعجب و ذوق چیزها هست که برای ساکنان دنیای متمدن (و بعضی وقتا نه چندان متمدن) بدیهی است…بی بی سی فارسی برای اولین بار (حد اقل تا جایی که در خاطر نسل من و ما هست) به تماشاگر ایرانی امکان دیدن برنامه های خوب و داشتن تجربه ای که میلیون ها نفر دیگر از ساکنان زمین همیشه داشته اند را میدهد. بالاخره در قرن بیست و یک، دست ما را گرفته و برای اولین بار ما را با قرن بیستم آشنا میکند،

“The high quality of BBC programs during the first week that I was watching it, made me very excited. It is just like seeing a 5-star hotel, a modern studio, …or a big supermarket in Iran surprises me. There are a series of things in their existence that are considered very normal for the civilised (and sometimes not really civilised) world, but for us is just like a dream… BBC Persian, for the first time in the remembrance of my generation, lets us experience watching quality programming. The experience that millions of people on this earth have had for many years… Finally at the beginning of 21st century, BBC presents to us the 20th century.”

Mahjad writes [7] [fa] that BBC really started well, “and much better that I imagined.” But that you always find, “jealous people who just see the half-empty glass.”

Seaman who launched [8][fa] a blog to analyse BBC Persian TV programs, says it sometimes seems they do not have enough programs, and will repeat one several times, such as “Kamkara”, a program about a group of musicians.

Bamdadi says [9] [fa] we should be happy, but not excited. The blogger says finallythe monopoly of low quality US-funded Persian-speaking Voice of America and Los Angeles-based channels is over. While celebrating that official TV in Iran will most likely need to improve and decrease propaganda in programs, the blogger warns:

به خاطر خلا رسانه ای در بین فارسیزبانان، این خطر وجود دارد که تلویزیون بی بی سی فارسی به سرعت اعتبار و محبوبیت بسیار بالایی پیدا کند و در این صورت دستکاری کردن افکار عمومی مردم ایران در راستای منافع انگلستان و متحدانش راحتتر میشود.

“Due to the absence of competitors, the BBC can very quickly attract credibility and popularity among Iranians and start to manipulate Iranian public opinion for the benefits of the UK and its allies.”

Menbar, an Islamic cleric, remembers [10] [fa] that his father used to listen to BBC radio during the Iran-Iraq war. He says that BBC TV is professional and has hours of interviews in its archive from Iranian personalities. He wonders if Iranian television has such archives.