Will Iranians wake up to BBC or to VOA? (updated)

Posted: 03 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"For the last year there has been a debate in Washington regarding the content of Voice of America and RFE/RL’s Persian language service. Some have argued that these broadcasts are not sufficiently supportive of the views of the U.S. government and/or not sufficiently critical of the Iranian government. Professional and objective news broadcasts will find an important audience in Iran. There is a dearth of quality television news programming in the Persian language. Official Iranian state television broadcasts are tightly controlled by the government, and opposition satellite television networks broadcast out of Los Angeles and elsewhere in the West are not viewed as credible alternatives. The model should be the BBC World Service; indeed the BBC intends to launch their Persian-language television broadcast sometime in early 2008. Insisting that U.S. government-funded media outlets espouse U.S. views ultimately undermines its ability to attract a relevant audience. As one senior European diplomat pointed out, 'People around the world wake up in the morning to the BBC World Service; I’ve never heard anyone say they start their day by listening to Voice of America.'" Karim Sadjadpour, testimony to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, 30 October 2007, via dtt-net, 2 November 2007. Update: "'Iranians have already benefited immeasurably from democracy funding, especially from the Persian-language broadcasts by Voice of America television and Radio Farda ("Tomorrow"), for which a majority of the $75 million at issue now is allocated,' [Akbar] Atri, a former dissident student leader who has lived in Washington since 2005, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on October 15. 'These broadcasts offer news and perspectives to the Iranian public that they would not otherwise have, including news regarding developments inside their own country. The broadcasts are popular with millions of diverse Iranians and have successfully broken the Islamic Republic's attempt to isolate the country from external sources of information. The Iranian regime could not be happier to see its popular nemeses -- VOA television and Radio Farda -- exterminated by Iranian-Americans and others purporting to do good.'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 2 November 2007. "The BBC World Service says it is recruiting producers for its Persian-language programming." International Journalists' Network, 2 November 2007.