Iran Media and Press Freedom

Iran Media and Press Freedom

Media and press freedom

Iran has a comparatively diverse media landscape. Since there is no advance censorship, a large number of newspapers appear, but not a few of them are banned again after a very short time. One of the most prominent (but no longer with the highest circulation) newspapers is the Kayhan. It is extremely conservative and is close to the leader of the revolution. It consists of a domestic and an international edition, and it also has a website in Persian and English. It is published by the Kayhan Institute, currently directed by Hosein Shariatmadari, a confidante of the revolutionary leader. The newspaper with the highest circulation at the moment is Iran.

In addition to Kayhan and Iran, there is a wide range of newspapers that cover the full range of legal political opinions. The largest English-language magazine in Iran is the Tehran Times. It was founded in 1979 to bring the goals and ideals of the Islamic Republic to the world. Ayatollah Mohammad Beheschti, one of Khomeini’s closest associates, said, “The Tehran Times is not a government newspaper; it must be a loud voice of the Islamic Revolution and the speaker of the oppressed peoples of the earth ”.

The news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran IRNA offers its services in Persian, English, French, Spanish, Turkish and Chinese.

In the state television there are several national broadcasters and various regional programs, to get Al-Alam and Press TV. There is no private television. The nationwide programs are all located in one building in Tehran, the official name of the television is “Voice and Eye of the Islamic Republic”. The channels are divided into Subject areas such as politics, entertainment, education and sport, but the topic of religion always takes up about half of the broadcast time, regardless of the respective channel.

According to mathgeneral, the constitution of the Islamic Republic of 1979 explicitly called for the freedom of the media, but only as long as it was designed “in accordance with Islamic principles”. Both television and radio have been subordinate to their own authority since 1979, the head of which can be removed at any time by the revolutionary leader. De facto, one cannot speak of freedom of the press, on the “world ranking of press freedom” of 2019 Iran ranks 170th out of 180 countries considered.

In its 2017/2018 annual report, Amnesty International documents how free expression of opinion in Iran is suppressed by vague laws and tough crackdowns and how the internet in particular is subject to strict control by the authorities. Many journalists and bloggers are arrested and sentenced to prison or corporal terms. After years of preparation, Iran has also recently a “national information network”, an Iranian intranet on the way brought through which free access can be further limited to the Internet. This, too, now has an impact on access to the Internet from Iran.

The orientation of the respective governments changes these fundamental problems somewhat at best. For example, despite Mohammad Khatami’s initiatives, journalists continued to be persecuted and imprisoned. This situation had worsened under his successor Ahmadinejad and has not changed fundamentally until today.

Iran Political Map


The wave of publications of American documents from 2010 onwards by the WikiLeaks disclosure platform did not stop at Iran, many of the files that became accessible concerned him. They showed, for example, how American security services tried to prove Iranian activities in Iraq, above all Iranian support for Shiite insurgents. Nevertheless, the documents had a different effect in Iran than in Europe, for example. Because what the American government thought about leading members of the Iranian government at this point in time was already well known and would hardly damage the diplomatic climate between the USA and Iran. Still, the revelations posed a problem for Iran.

By far the most attention was drawn to documents that revealed what Arab leaders behind closed doors thought of an American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Although it was nothing new that the Iranian nuclear program aroused and aroused fears, especially in the Gulf States, the Arab leaders have always publicly criticized a possible attack. Their fear of being traitors to the Muslim cause in front of their own people was too great, especially since Ahmadinejad was the hero of the street in many countries in the Middle East at the time.

These publications also presented problems for the Islamic Republic, as they exposed two of the central dogmas of the state-Iranian self-view. On the one hand, they showed that Iran was diplomatically isolated at that time, an impression that the respective Iranian governments always try to avoid, since many Iranians fear nothing more than an overly negative image abroad. On the other hand, the Islamic Republic likes to present itself as the leader of the Islamic world, especially in front of its religious clientele. But now it became clear that the Arab heads of state did not want to follow this claim. As a result, the Iranian state media tried primarily to downplay the value of the documents. They were specifically published to sow discord in the Middle East and prepare an American attack. They should also support Israel. The statements by the Arab heads of state quoted there, on the other hand, hardly appeared in the Iranian media.