Iran's Press TV to Rival Western Media
JOHN YDSTIE, host:
Iran today launches a 24-hour English language news network called Press TV. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting says the network will compete with Western media broadcasting to Iran. The networks correspondents will report from Washington, New York, London, Beirut and Damascus. And the network has plans for bureaus in Baghdad and Cairo.
To get more details, we called Tehran to talk to the host of the network's program "Middle East Today," Shahab Mosavat. Good morning, sir.
Mr. SHAHAB MOSAVAT (Host, "Middle East Today;" Communications Director, Press TV): Hello, good morning.
YDSTIE: Iran already runs an Arabic language satellite channel and a Persian language network. There are already three 24-hours English language networks broadcasting to Iran: the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. So, why launch another English language service?
Mr. MOSAVAT: Well, we felt that there was a bit of a gap in the market in the sense that we didn't always feel that the balance of reportage was even-handed and measured. As a broadcast journalist myself, I always felt that the most important element in what we did was balance, and that we think that maybe Press TV can go a little bit further. That's not to say that our colleagues are doing a bad job. It's just that we feel that maybe it's possible to do a better job.
YDSTIE: But the network is state owned. I wonder what influence will the government have on your news programs? What if you chose to criticize President Ahmadinejad, for instance?
Mr. MOSAVAT: Well, if I might just correct you slightly, we're state funded. We're not state owned. There is a distinction there, and it will be tantamount with saying that the BBC is state owned. Now, so far as your question is concerned about criticizing politicians, that's what journalists do. There isn't an agenda that says we shy away from anything. It's just that we hope that what we will do is to give everyone the right of redress, which isn't always obvious in the media.
YDSTIE: So, no restrictions on your broadcasting?
Mr. MOSAVAT: Not so far as I'm aware, and I've been here for eight months now. And I must say that the amount of liberty that I've had to ask the questions that I wanted to ask has always been present, much more so than when I work for the BBC, for instance.
YDSTIE: More freedom than when you work for the BBC.
Mr. MOSAVAT: Yes. The BBC is a much better established organization, and so, therefore, by virtue of its venerable age, I think that many things have been established. Because it's been around a lot longer, lots of things have taken shape there. You know, you have to observe those. Here at Press TV, we're still young and we're still learning our way, and so, therefore, we do enjoy a lot of latitude in what we do.
YDSTIE: Well, what programs will the network feature? What could viewers expect to see if they tune in?
Mr. MOSAVAT: Well, you were very kind in your introduction where you talked about my own program, "Middle East Today." That is a six-times-a-week show. We will be featuring the current affairs in the Middle East in depth. And then there's a program, "The Four Corners." Again, it will take a deeper view of the news. But there'll also be documentaries, and there's a half-hour news bulletin - half-hourly news bulletin. So 48 times everyday, we will go to the news and we'll catch up with what's going. So, it's a rolling news station with add-ons.
YDSTIE: And you are launching today?
Mr. MOSAVAT: We are.
YDSTIE: Well, good luck to you.
Mr. MOSAVAT: It's a - thank you very much. It's both exciting and a very nervous time, obviously, for us. And we hope that we treat the viewers out there to the extent that they take up the offer, and we devote ourselves and (unintelligible).
YDSTIE: Shahab Mosavat is director of communications for Iran's new English language network and host of his weekly program, "Middle East Today." He spoke with us from Tehran.
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