Introduction to Iraninan Massmedia

The Mass Media in Iran
1.Newspaper in Iran

It is documented that the history of print in Iran started during the mid 17th century and regular printing began in the early 19th century. So the history of newspaper and book publication in Iran can be traced back to the mid 19th century. The first newspaper in Iran, Kaghaz-e Akhbar (literally meaning paper of news) was created for the government in 1837. The paper went to print under the autocratic order of Mohammad Shah Qajar and was devoted entirely to lavishing praise on him and his “glorious services” to the nation.
Ruznameh-e vaqa-ye ittifaqiyeh (Newpaper of current affairs), was founded by the reform-promoting prime minister Amir Kabir (Mirza Mohammad Taqi Khan Farahani) in 1850, and it continued after his downfall (in 1851) as a chronicle of official information. No other newspapers were permitted during the reign of Naser al-Din Shah (1848 - 1896). Consequently, the most important early Iranian newspapers were published outside the country: Akhtar, founded in Istanbul in 1875; Qanun, founded in London in 1890; and Habl al-Matin, founded in Calcutta in 1893. Following the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 newspapers were born one after another and by 1907 there were 90 newspapers circulating in Iran. Most papers supported the various ideological factions that emerged after 1906.

In 1921 Reza Khan (subsequently Reza Shah Pahlavi) began organizing a movement that five years later led to the coup that deposed the Qajar Dynasty . As Reza Shah consolidated his power throughout the 1920s, the independent press was subject to increasing censorship. Press freedom was restored after Reza Shah's abdication <> and exile in August 1941. During the next twelve years newspapers represented every ideological tendency found in Iran.
The 1953 US/British sponsored coup d'état that enabled Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to assert his authority over the Majles  and effectively establish a royal dictatorship ushered in another period of strict press censorship that lasted for twenty-five years until the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran provides for freedom of the press as long as published material accords with Islamic principles. The publisher of every newspaper and periodical is required by law to have a valid publishing license. Any publication perceived as being anti-Islamic is not granted a publication license. Just after the Islamic Revolution, there was a new and rapid development of newspapers that reflected a diverse range of opinions and views. The 8 -year Iraqi imposed war of the 1980s affected many aspects of Iranian life including media publications which began to rise again in the early 1990s. In 1997 the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance began to issue licenses to virtually anyone who applied for a publishing permit and within a year more than one hundred dailies, magazines and other periodicals - more than one-fifth of them in Tehran - were being printed throughout the country. Many of these newspapers proclaim their commitment to democracy and criticize political leaders and policies they identify as antidemocratic. The media are bound by law to respect religious and social values of the society as well as state and individual integrity. Iran's newspapers and print media, including a few in English, has had a larger readership  in recent years and offers a broader spectrum of views on political ideas than at any other time in the country's modern history.
Offences related to the press and violation of Iran’s Press Law come under the jurisdiction of Iran's press court. The Law created a Committee for the Supervision of the Press within the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance. The Committee members include a judge appointed by the head of the judiciary, the minister of culture and guidance (or his representative), a member of the Majles (Parliament), a university professor chosen by the Minister of Higher Education, a press director, a seminary cleric chosen by the Qom Seminaries Management Council, and a member of the Cultural Revolution Council. The committee is empowered to hear complaints against journalists and newspapers and can refer
complaints to the Press Court.
Trials involving the media can only take place in the presence of a jury, which recommends to the presiding judge the guilt or innocence of defendants and the severity of any penalty to be imposed. Members of the Jury (Tehran 21, provincial capitals 14) are selected for a two-year term by a 5-member panel whose members include the Minister of Islamic Guidance, the leader of the City Council and the head of the Judiciary. The Revolutionary Court sometimes hears cases involving press violations when it has determined that the violation constitutes a threat to the revolution and national security.
Types of offences that can get a hearing include undermining Islamic and revolutionary principles, jeopardizing national security, slander , incitement, and attempting to offend public morals or Islam.

There are quite a large number of newspapers, mostly published in Tehran, representing a cross-section of views and interests. The following newspapers are the most prominent ones.
Persian Dailies:
Etemad, Etelaat, Ebtekar, Abrar, Iran, Jamae Jam, Jomhuriye Eslami, Khabar, Javan, Quds, Kar o Kargar, Shargh, Resalat, Keyhan, Hamshahri, Mardom Salari, Hambastegi
English Dailies:
Iran Daily, Tehran Times, Keyhan International, Tehran Times
Iranian newspapers are estimated to have a total circulation of approximately 4 million with Hamshahri leading the way with about 360,000 copies. In addition to the national and local dailies about 60 weekly and monthly magazines and periodicals, covering a wide variety of topics including science, arts, sports, IT, industry, culture and others, are published nationwide.

2.Radio and Television in Iran
Radio began transmitting in Iran in 1926 and television did not find its way into Iranian homes until 1958. The two were incorporated in 1966 to form the National Iranian Radio and Television. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 all radio and television broadcasting is done by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), which is among the largest media organizations in Asia  and Pacific  region. According to Article 175 of the Iranian constitution <>, the freedom of expression and dissemination of thoughts in the Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be guaranteed in keeping with the Islamic criteria and the best interests of the country. The appointment - for a five year term - and dismissal of the head of the Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran rests with the Leader. A council consisting of two representatives each of the Executive (President), the Judiciary and Legislative (Majlis) branches supervise the functioning of this organization.
Facts about IRIB
·IRIB has offices in sixteen (16) countries worldwide, including in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas and broadcasts in a number of languages.
·IRIB broadcasts thirteen (13) national television channels, thirty three (33) provincial television channels with Fifty percent using local dialect for some regional programmes; and ten (10) international television channels as follows: 
· Al Aalam( Arabic)
· Press TV (English)
·  Hispan TV (Spanish)
· Sahar 1 ( Azari, French, and Bosnian)
· Sahar 2 (English, Kurdish, Urdu
· Al-Kawthar (Arabic)
·Jame Jam1 , 2 & 3 (for the Iranian Diaspora and Farsi speakers in Europe, North America, Asia and the Oceania  respectively)
·Ifilm (Iranian films and serials in Farsi, English & Arabic)
Some other IRIB activities:
·The IRIB provides eight major radio stations.
·IRIB produces over 5000 hours of TV shows, over 300 movies and in excess of 20,000 minutes of animated movies <> annually.
·IRIB publishes a number of periodicals including the daily Jamejam and various titles by Soroush Press.
·IRIB has a movie production company, called Sima Film. It also outsources media production to numerous privately owned domestic media companies.
·IRIB has a training center, a research centre and runs the IRIB College of Radio & Television offering diplomas, graduate and master degrees in a variety of courses including in Multimedia & Interaction, Video & Television, Animation & Simulation.

3.News Agencies in Iran
There are over 20 news agencies operating in Iran of which the following are the most active.
Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting - IRIB
Iranian Students News Agency - ISNA
Iranian Labour News Agency - ILNA
Mehr News Agency - MEHR
Fars News Agency - FARS
Iran Pas News Agency - IPNA
Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency - CHN
Potroenergy Information Network - PIN
Moj News Agency - MOJ
Iranian Women News Agency - IWNA
Qods News Agency - Qodsna

4.Electronic News Media
Many Iranian newspapers and news sources are available on the internet. There are also hundreds of Internet News Media, both Iranian and foreign, available to readers in Farsi. 

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