Foreign based broadcasters dominate the news and information market in Iran, with Iran International TV leading the way, a newspaper in Tehran said Monday.
Shargh Daily, a reformist and relatively independent newspaper in an article urging the government to be more tolerant of media and criticism pointed out that currently four major international broadcasters are the most popular sources of news and information for the people in Iran.
The BBC Persian Service, Iran International, Manoto and the Voice of America are influential the article said, “with Iran International getting ahead by employing anchors and journalists who left Iran and having an impact on public opinion in the country.”
The article, penned by Ghader Bastani and coinciding with Iran’s ‘Journalist Day’ has urged the government to give freedom to media “as the most effective way to fight corruption and improve government efficiency.” Increasing pressures on journalists and the closure of many independent publications have pushed many talented reporters to leave Iran, Shargh has argued. These journalists have gone to work for foreign-based Persian media and have become opponents of the Islamic Republic, it said.
In fact, government media outlets and those controlled by pro-government conservative groups are not considered as reliable sources of news and foreign-based media have stolen the spot, Shargh said, and urged the government to encourage and help “professional journalism.”
Iran International is the newest member of foreign-based Persian broadcasters. It was established in May 2017 and last year an opinion survey conducted among Iranians showed that it has gained the largest percentage of news audience in Iran.
A poll conducted by Gamaan polling agency in the Netherlands in 2021 found Iran International TV (33% audience) and Manoto TV (30%), both based in London, as the most popular media outlets in Iran.
The poll with a representative sample of over 27,000 individuals, 92 percent of those who took part said they get their news and information about Iran and the world from social media, 41% from satellite television stations, 32% from news websites and 14% from the Iranian state television on a daily basis.
Iran has one of the world’s worst media and internet censorships, with tens of thousands of websites blocked since the early 2000s and most social media platforms banned. In the absence of free media and the very high level of censorship, many Iranians turn to social media for political news and information.
Some 60 percent of those contacted by Gamaan said they never watch the news on the Iranian state-run television, the agency said, adding that generalization of the results of the survey to the general public are valid by a 95% coefficient.
Those taking part in the survey were literate Iranians over 19 years of age, representative of 85 percent of the adult population in Iran.
According to the findings of the survey, 33% respondents in the poll said they watch the Iran International TV daily. This makes the network the most popular Persian speaking foreign based news channel in Iran.
Next on the popularity ladder were Manoto TV with 30%, BBC Persian TV with 17%, both London-Based, as well as Jam TV, based in Turkey, with 16.5%, followed by the Iranian state TV at 16 percent, the Washington-based VOA TV also known as PNN with 11 percent popularity.