Iran's government has allocated 75 trillion rials or almost $200 million in its proposed annual budget for the state broadcaster IRIB, its main propaganda outfit.

The IRIB's budget for the Iranian year 1402 which starts on March 21, has grown by 42 percent compared to last year's budget.

Some observers have attributed the rise in the state TV's budget to IRIB Chief Payman Jebelli's development plans for the organization. But the 7-fold rise in IRIB's annual budget since 2018 or its 4-fold increase since the inauguration of President Ebrahim Raisi in 2021 can be explained as a way of helping the state television to cope with the sharp devaluation of Iranian currency.

The Raisi administration started with a rate of exchange for US dollar of 250,000 rials which has so far risen to around 400,000 rials.

Last year, the state TV's budget was larger than the budgets allocated of 16 government ministries. This year, it is more than the budget for any Iranian province other than the Fars Province. Nonetheless, according to many critics and media including Khabar Online its audience has been declining since 2017.

While the budgets of the education ministry or other essential institutions have in real terms declined because of the worthless rials they receive, the hardliners ruling in Iran have made sure their main propaganda and repression outfits are well compensated for the de facto devaluation of the national currency.

Despite this, IRIB's output has been decreasing. Some of the TV series made on hefty budgets has had only 16 percent popularity according to the IRIB's own research center. Meanwhile, the broadcaster had to pull several entertainment programs that TV host Reza Dorostkar called "rubbish".

IRIB "journalists-interrogators" Ameneh Sadat and Ali Rezvani in an undated photo

But for the regime perhaps the more important thing is that IRIB broadcasts confessions of dissidents obtained under torture. Two of its so-called journalists are active interrogators of political prisoners.

The 42-percent rise in IRIB's budget becomes meaningful when we consider a minimal 20-percent salary increase for government employees in the face of an at least 50-percent inflation rate. An example of the extravagant rise in IRIB's budget is the amount allocated to the broadcaster's supervisory board which has only 6 members, all regime insiders. The budget for the supervisory board has increased from 70 billion rials two years ago to 90 billion rials last year and 145 billion rials for the coming Iranian year on March 21.

Nonetheless, the state TV is not the only organization receiving a hefty annual budget for the coming year. There are tens of religious and ideological propaganda organizations that are not accountable to anyone and have no checks and balances for their financial turnover.

According to economic journalists in Iran, The budget for Propaganda Office of the Qom Seminary has increased by 54.4 percent, The organization that runs Ruhollah Khomeini's tomb has received a 71.4 percent rise, the organizations that protects the relics of the 1980s war with Iraq received a 159.2 percent boost and the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's representatives at the universities rose by over 40 percent.

Reports also say that among Iranian security organizations, the Intelligence Ministry got a 43 percent rise while the the police force got is 41 percent, the Army's Joint Chief of Staff got 32.5 percent, the IRGC 48 percent and the Basij 11.5 percent.

The substantially enlarged draft state budget, which is heavily dependent on tax revenues, will kickstart a month-long review of the bill before parliament holds a vote to approve it and turn it into a law. Last year the Majles changed some of the figures presented by the government in budget bill, but the parliament complained later that the Raisi administration spent the budget in its own way rather than sticking to the what the Majles had approved.

G4 Protest Special - Evening (2023)
IITV News (54) - DC
IITV News (54) - DC

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