Ultraconservatives appear to be completing the takeover of Iran's state television, also called the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Organization (IRIB).

The push to take over the country’s only broadcasting organization started in December 2021 with the appointment of Vahid Jalili as acting IRIB chief for cultural affairs and policy “evolution”.

IRIB operates under the supervision of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office, so the changes must have received his approval.

Vahid Jalili is the brother of Saeed Jalili, former chief nuclear negotiator, and ultraconservative Paydari Party’s presidential candidate in 2017. Saeed Jalili and IRIB chief Payman Jebelli were close colleagues at the Supreme Council of national Security in early 2010s.

It took Vahid Jalili only a few months to begin the “evolution” at IRIB. In early May, he chose ultraconservative Mohsen Barmahani as his deputy for TV operations. In less than one week, Barmahani, whose previous position was the head of the documentary department of Iran’s English-language rolling news channel Press TV, appointed new heads for six of IRIB’s key channels.

Like Barmahani himself, all the new channel chiefs are hardliners close to the Paydari Party. The Public Relations Office of the IRIB celebrated the appointments by publishing a poster that showed the pictures of Mohsen Barmahani and Meysam Moradi Binabaj who has been appointed as the chief of Channel 1, and the new managers of other channels.

Jalili brothers. Vahid Jalili on the right

The chief of Channel 3, Ali Forughi has been re-instated in his post. Vahid Rahimian, an Iranian filmmaker, wrote in a Twitter post that all of the new directors belong to the ultraconservative Ammariun Group close to former nuclear negotiator Said Jalili and that all of them are members of the ultraconservative Paydari [Steadfastness] Party. Ammarium is also close to the cultural wing of the Revolutionary Guard, IRGC.

A report by Iran International earlier this year revealed that many IRGC intelligence officers were in charge of IRIB's news operations.

Reformist news website Ensaf News also confirmed that “nearly all of the newly appointed state television managers are close to Saeed Jalili,” but warned that “instead of heralding an ‘evolution,’ the appointments marked a resemblance to the managerial style of Channel 3 Chief Ali Foroughi,” who is a relative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and is notorious for his despotic management and firing some of the popular TV personalities such as sports commentator Adel Ferdowsipour who were not quite obedient to him.

Ensaf News noted that the appointments were in contradiction to Jebelli’s promise of “Giving a voice to the voiceless,” when he was appointed as IRIB Chief in 2021. The Paydari and Saeed Jalili have no shortage of media outlets as they control nearly all the state-owned print media, the official news agency IRNA, as well as some of Iran’s key news websites including their mouthpiece Raja News.

The new managers have served in key positions at the Ammariun Film Festival and IRGC’s Owj Media Center which produces movies and TV series that propagate the hardliners’ ideological line of thought. One of the center’s well-known productions is the TV series Gando about the alleged infiltration of foreign elements and Iranian liberals in key organizations such as the foreign ministry.

The official news agency IRNA introduced the new managers as “young revolutionaries,” a characteristic first mentioned by Khamenei as the new generation that will steer the Islamic Republic in its second 40 years.

According to IRIB’s Young Journalists Club, the oldest one of the new managers was born in 1974, while the rest of them were born between 1981 and 1988.

News at a Glance
24 with Fardad
Science Weekly

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