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What is Happening at Iran's State Radio and Television?

By Fereshteh Ghazi, Rooz Online

The events following the June 12 election have brought about unemployment, threats, prison sentences and harsh prison terms, lashes, exile and suspension from political and social rights for many journalists. But what is happening on the other side of the camp, to journalists who work for the government, in the so-called national media outlets? How has the contested June 12 presidential election affected the work environment of journalists employed by the state radio and television broadcasting? Rooz has explored this issue in interviews with some reporters officially employed by the state radio and television broadcasting.

[Rooz is unable to publish the names of interviewees due to security concerns.]

Protests at Tehran University against Iran's State TV

Following the bloody events of June and July 2009, demonstrations took place in front of the state radio and television broadcasting's buildings, with some rumors even pointing to the possibility of the building's seizure by people. Despite the protests and the audible slogans being chanted against the organization, journalists and employees inside continued their usual work: distorting the realities of Iran. According to reports from Rooz correspondents and interviews with employees at various levels of the state radio and television broadcasting chain, however, the organization's body is on people's side, even though it is not able to voice its opinion under the heavy security presence gripping the organization.

Media Execution

A senior analyst at the organization, who is visibly present in many programs, tells Rooz that the broadcasting organization cannot be viewed as a united body: "In this organization, people can act differently because they are supported by different individuals. The channel 3 television, for example, can tackle the day's issues with more courage because of the presence of someone like Ali Asghar Pour-Mohammadi, who has strong lobbying power."

He points to pressures facing the organization's workers, adding, "In essence, everyone is in a way oppressed by the system. If there is a problem, they are subjected to media executions, which means dismissal or transfer."

Security Atmosphere

One prominent radio and television broadcasting reporter spoke to Rooz about the harsh security atmosphere that reigns in the organization.

Speaking to Rooz, he says that the employees are afraid of each other and all are extremely worried. He adds, "But these employees are with the people of Iran. For example, at ayatollah Montazeri's funeral, I saw some employees who were with and among the people, and that night or the next day had programs on radio and television. What does that mean? It means that the organization's body is with the Green Movement, while thought has no value or respect in the organization. They expect you to be a slave. Others will do the thinking for you and you are expected only to work within the confines dictated by them."

Another reporter comments about the killing of the son of one the organization's oldest reporters on Ashoura Day: "These days, people at the radio and television broadcasting joke with each other and say, 'Don't talk; do your work before they drive over you.'"

Amir Arshad Tajmir, son of the well-known
State TV reporter Shahin Mahinfar, was killed
during the protests in Tehran on Decermber 27, 2009

According to him, the son of the broadcasting reporter, who was martyred on Ashoura Day, worked with the organization as a sound engineer. He explains, "This 25-year-old man was not an official employee of the organization, but he worked with it."

There are many more such stories, but these alone throw light on the atmosphere of the state-run national television network.

... Payvand News - 01/27/10 ... --

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