New American-Style TV Show Is Beamed to Tehran in Persian
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 At first glance, the broadcast that emanates each afternoon from a small studio in the Voice of America headquarters near the National Mall looks like a typical American news program.
A sophisticated anchor recounts the major events of the day. Satellite images from across the globe accompany her commentary, giving the broadcast a polished look. The program, however, is broadcast in Persian, and domestic news refers to events in Iran.
The show is "News and Views," the third television or radio program started by the United States for an Iranian audience since President Bush labeled the country part of an "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.
Last September, the Voice of America began broadcasting "Next Chapter," an MTV-influenced weekly television show that illustrates the lifestyles of hip, young Iranian-Americans. Three months later, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty jointly started Radio Farda ("tomorrow" in Persian), a round-the-clock broadcast of news and music. "News and Views" began on July 6 three days before the anniversary of pro-democracy demonstrations in Iran in 1999.
In response, the Iranian government has jammed radio and television satellite signals, making it difficult for people in Iran to receive the programs consistently.
Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, says Iran is waging a "systematic campaign" to keep the truth from its people.
Since 1996 the Voice of America's Persian Service has broadcast "Round Table With You," a weekly call-in television show. The radio and television programs added in the past year have sought to engage the Iranian people further, especially the under-30 group that makes up 70 percent of the country's population.
Ahmad Baharloo, executive producer of "News and Views," said the program was "descriptive, not prescriptive." It is also markedly different from privately financed broadcasts from the United States. Typically broadcast from Los Angeles, home to a large Iranian-American population, many of the privately sponsored programs are stridently opposed to the Tehran government.
Mr. Tomlinson denied that the American government was financing propaganda. He said, "We are not on the air urging people to do regime change or to rise up against the mullahs," referring to Iran's religious clerics who wield great influence in the government.
The success of "News and Views" has been difficult to gauge, but Mr. Tomlinson said there had been an "extraordinary outpouring of e-mails" in support of it. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/14/international/middleeast/14VOIC.html?ex=1061524800&en=81ecf74f08009ec2&ei=5040&partner=MOREOVER