BBC launches Persian TV channel

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Jan 20 13:51:11 UTC 2009

BBC launches Persian TV channel

The BBC's newest satellite TV channel has gone on air, a Farsi
language service for viewers mainly in Iran, Afghanistan and
Tajikistan. BBC Persian TV will broadcast for eight hours a day, seven
days a week, in peak viewing time in those countries. The head of BBC
World Service, Nigel Chapman, says millions of Iranians have dishes
and there is plenty of demand. But Iranian officials have branded the
channel a "security threat" and say they will take "necessary" steps.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholamhoseyn Mohseni-Ezhei said after
Wednesday's cabinet session: "We do not consider this network as
suitable for the security of the country and will take the necessary
measures with regards to it." The Iranian authorities have already
refused the BBC permission to conduct any production operations for
the new TV channel on their soil. The BBC has been broadcasting in
Farsi on the radio since 1940 and it launched in 2001.
The radio has a weekly audience of 10 million people and the BBC hopes
that the television service will reach the same figure within three

Important audience

As part of the BBC World Service, the new channel is funded by the UK
Foreign Office at an annual cost of £15m ($22m) but it is editorially
independent of the government. Mr Chapman said it was important to
provide TV in Farsi because of the numbers of people accessing news
and information through television. He called them "a very important
audience... who trust the BBC, who value it". As well as news, the BBC
Persian channel will show BBC arts, culture, science and technology
programmes, dubbed into Persian.

Correspondents say despite the efforts of the government in Tehran,
the BBC has a high reputation as a reliable news provider among
Although the government has banned Farsi-language operations, it does
allow the BBC to base an English-language correspondent in the
But the authorities have warned citizens not to get involved with the
new TV channel, and the BBC has advised viewers not to risk getting
themselves into trouble in order to take part in phone-ins and other
interactive broadcasts.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/01/14 13:32:49 GMT

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