The Iranian government continues to have complete control of domestic media and remains universally hostile toward foreign media outlets. BBG networks serve a vital role in Iran, enabling the free flow of information and expression of ideas, while supporting Iranians’ struggle for modernity and openness. VOA targets urban youth who are politically savvy and active online, as well as working to fight misperceptions and stereotypes about the U.S. RFE/RL targets urban youth and aims to help them better understand Iran and the region in order to build a better life. Both entities provide platforms for free thought and debate that is not tolerated in the local media.
The Iranian media market is characterized by complete government control and unremitting official hostility towards foreign media outlets, especially Persian-language radio and TV broadcasts from outside of the country. The authorities continue to take aggressive measures to block such broadcasts, including jamming of AM/MW radio signals and, occasionally, jamming of shortwave and satellite TV signals. Websites are routinely blocked and denouncements of foreign media in the official press are frequent. Due to instances of jamming, the BBG must use multiple avenues to reach the Iranian population.
Goals and Priorities
Increase understanding of current events. Provide content aimed at greater understanding of current events thus helping the Iranian audience form opinions on the policy delisions being made at home and abroad that will affect their lives.
Expand knowledge and tap into curiosity. Provide unique, exclusive content on science and technology, medicine and environment issues – topics young Iranians find interesting – in order to broaden their knowledge.
Encourage young people to find their voice. Engage audiences and encourage citizen journalism submissions in order to increase audience participation and strengthen civil society.
The Voice of America is shaking up its prime time television line-up in Iran with a fresh look and with new Farsi language programming that will continue to speak to Iran’s millennials and its diverse audience. “We are making efforts to keep pace with the media markets in Iran. The target is a younger audience and we are evolving with the times,” explains VOA Persian Service Director Setareh Derakhshesh.VOA Persian is acquiring an entertainment program based in Los Angeles that would focus on the Iranian diaspora as well as entertainment events in California. VOA Persian is also developing a Nowruz special programming event out of LA that will celebrate the Iranian New Year.
RFE/RL’s Farda targets urban, educated 20-40 year olds in Iran who aspire to have full social and political freedoms and a fair chance to improve their economic conditions. Through its unique programming mix of news, features, documentaries, and music, Farda strives to inform its audience about events inside and outside of Iran and engage listeners, viewers and readers in discussion about the best path for the development of Iran in the future. Core members of the target audience include civil society and labor activists as well as people interested in supporting human rights.
In 2016, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda produced and aired a 45-minute documentary about interrogation techniques in Iranian prisons, focusing on the experiences of political and civic activists; and fully televised its “Breakfast With News” show to air on VOA’s Persian satellite stream.
In 2016, Radio Farda also launched a new radio and digital program called Taboo, which discusses controversial subjects inside Iran. The program, which has generated a high-level of engagement, provides a forum to discuss topics that would otherwise be considered taboo in Iranian society, such as the issue of Islam’s interference with people’s lifestyles and what comprises the common Turkic identity.
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