Raha TV, from London studios, now "promoting democracy and freedom" in Iran.

Posted: 28 Oct 2012   Print   Send a link
AFP, 25 Oct 2012: "A businessman opposed to the Iranian regime launched a new television channel in London on Thursday aimed at 'promoting democracy and freedom' in the Middle Eastern state. At a press conference in the British capital, the channel’s director and editor-in-chief Ali Asghar Ramezanpoor said 'Raha' would be the 'first independent channel that belongs to Iranian people.' 'There are channels in Persian -- like BBC or Voice of America -- but they are from others countries, not Iranian people,' added Ramezanpoor, a former deputy minister in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The channel is funded by Amir Hossein Jahanchahi, founder of opposition movement Green Wave. He outlined how the channel would challenge the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. ... Raha, which means 'to free' in Persian, will employ 40 people in London and will also rely on a network of around 20 freelancers in Iran, according to its founders. Jahanchahi said Raha 'would be open to all opposition, reformist and non-reformist, to all people who want a different future' for Iran."

Sky News, 25 Oct 2012, Tim Marshall: "If you believe what [Jahanchahi] says, he will play a major role in bringing down a regime he likens to Nazi Germany. If you believe his critics, Raha TV is a rich man's plaything which will have minimal effect."

Vestnik Kavkaza, 25 Oct 2012: "The editor-in-chief of Raha TV will be former deputy culture minister Ali Asghar Ramezanpur, who fled abroad in 2003."

RT, 25 Oct 2012: "Ironically, Raha TV is broadcast through European satellite provider Eutelsat, the agency that blacked out the 19 state-run Iranian TV and radio stations."

Press TV, 26 Oct 2012: "Persian media outlets in the West, such as BBC Persia and Voice of America have led an anti-Iran agenda. And now, it’s the turn of Raha TV, a new Anti-Iran channel which began broadcasting from London on Thursday. ... How much funding Raha TV gets from American, British and Israeli governments remains to be seen. But In the eyes of many political analysts, the channel is perceived as serving the interests of Western imperial hegemony in the Middle East and not the Iranian people."

Lyngsat lists Raha TV on Eutelsat 7A, 7.0°E. See also www.rahatv.com.

USIB usually requisitions the word "free" to use as names for its international broadcasting entities (Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra - "The Free One"). Now that Mr. Jahanchahi is using "to free" to brand his channel, it appears that USIB will have to make do with "VOA Persian News Network."

With many commentators calling for US broadcasts to Iran to be more supportive of the opposition and to call for the overthrow of the regime, and claiming that VOA PNN is pro-regime, I have thought that eventually the United States would develop two television channels to Iran. One would be the advocated opposition station, the other the existing VOA PNN. The people of Iran could then decide, in the spirit of free-market competition, if they prefer anti-regime propaganda or a straightforward treatment of the news.

Now Raha TV removes the need for such an opposition channel, and does so at no apparent cost to the US taxpayers. Nevertheless, the one thing that US international broadcasting does more consistently than anything else is to duplicate already-existing broadcasting efforts. So we might indeed, eventually, see a US government funded channel to compete both with Raha TV and VOA PNN.