IRIB's headquarters in Tehran

Iran State Television Is Simply A Propaganda Tool, Critics Say

Saturday, 04/01/2023

Reformist commentator and seasoned journalist Abbas Abdi says the "Iranian state television is not a media outlet. It is a propaganda tool that has lost its influence."

Speaking to Jamaran News website, Abdi said that that the Iranian state TV wishes to be the only organization that sends messages to the people, but this is no longer possible.

Abdi argued that the state TV disseminates its ideological and propaganda programs and foreign-based Persian speaking media broadcast a different message, but it is the public who decides which one to follow and believe.

"Any media outlet that is used as a tool for political propaganda will lose its influence," Abdi said, adding that "the fact that the state TV sends messages does not mean that the nation will necessarily get those messages. The public in Iran has its own expectations and awaits messages that are based on those expectations." That probably is why the audiences welcome the messages that come from foreign-based media particularly when there are very few independent media outlets in Iran , he said.

Reformist journalist Abbas Abdi

Abdi said, "Twenty years ago we used to tell the government that you cannot stop satellite television. Now we tell the officials that you cannot stop the Internet." He added that trying to stop the Internet is a mistake. "When the official media of a country is as inefficient as Iran's state TV, naturally foreign-based media take the lead," he said.

He further added, "The state television's performance is based on presenting narratives, not truth. And it fails to understand that five different reporters might tell the truth in five different ways without telling lies. The main material the media use is the truth."

Abdi said that social media have removed the borders between Iran and other countries. Nonetheless, what it presents is not exactly the truth or the whole truth. Those who are on social media do not necessarily represent the whole population. "It would be a mistake to generalize what you see on social media," he warned. "For example, social media has portrayed regime change as an easy task." He reminded that "You could be active on social media without your comments costing you too much. Of course, social media are part of the society, but you cannot reduce the society to what is going on social media platforms."

Abdi added that one of the reasons why social media are so effective is that the real world has many problems. Currently, he stressed, the Iranian government has lost the war of narratives to foreign-based media.

A March 30 report on Khabar Online website assessed a talk show on state TV which tried to give voice to Iranian intellectuals and academics in the aftermath of recent protests giving them an opportunity to offer their solutions for the dangerous political impasse. However, according to Khabar Online, it appears that open-mindedness did not last more than two months on the Iranian state TV.

Taghi Azad Armaki, an Iranian sociologist

In one program, sociologist Taghi Azad Armaki observed that the middle class as part of the society that could have mediated between the government and the rest of the population no longer exists, because of growing poverty. In another program academic Mohammad Fazeli called on the fundamentalist government to understand Iran's modern society and stop intervening in people’s private lives.

As the broadcast of the program stopped after some 8 weeks and the state TV returned to its unilateral rhetoric against the people and their civil liberties, this could mean that the government is not interested in listening to well-wishing voices.

This once again recalls Abdi's statement about the Islamic Republic's defeat in the war of narratives, and the state TV's solution, like always is typical of government officials: Ignoring the problem rather than bothering to solve it.

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