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State-Run TV Takes a Hit

12 Jul 2009 22:579 Comments
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Dispatch from Tehran | 12 July 2009

Iranian news outlets noandish.com and tabnak.com report that Iranian state television has been hurt by falling advertising revenue. Several companies have reportedly either canceled or not renewed their contracts to broadcast their commercials through the IRIB, or the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. Some analysts quickly concluded that boycotting products advertised on IRIB's TV channels, a tactic suggested after the election by Mir Hossein Mousavi's supporters, is working. Others see it differently.

In Iran, there are no small-town FM radio stations broadcasting listener-requested music and local news. The state has a monopoly on both TV and radio. Even the smallest relay station is a government property, and its technicians are government employees. The Supreme Leader appoints IRIB's chief directly. A parliamentary panel is supposed to monitor its activities, but neither it nor the president has the authority to remove its chief. Thus, IRIB is the mouthpiece of the establishment.

During the recent presidential campaign, IRIB provided the candidates with live debate time on national TV and ended up giving an extra 20 minutes to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to defend himself. After the election, it followed the official line, refusing to cover rallies and demonstrations or to voice other candidates' concerns. It used all its resources to increase the entertainment meant to distract or placate the populous, broadcasting the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in one week. Its newscasters reminded people of the benefits of calm and peace. It labeled protesters as "foreign agents" and "hooligans." These tactics did not endear IRIB to the public.

In an attempt to voice their criticism of IRIB's conduct, Mousavi's supporters and several related Web sites called for a boycott of all products and services advertised on IRIB. Today, this boycott seems to be working.

Although spring and summer is generally the down time of TV commercials, the number of commercials broadcast has been declining, particularly during the popular shows such as Jumong, a Korean TV series. In response, IRIB's advertisement department has offered discounts and extra run time to advertisers. Unconfirmed reports suggest that as many as a dozen advertisement agencies have canceled their contracts with IRIB. Mousavi supporters are celebrating their success in their boycott campaign.

But is this success due to the boycott?

The boycott call is still in its earlier stages, and it does not seem consumers' response to it has been massive. Furthermore, companies and manufacturers are facing an uncertain future due to the global economic downturn. Under these circumstances, reducing expenses is always the first step, and the most likely candidate for budget cuts is often the advertisement and marketing departments. Thus, skeptics hesitate to attribute the decline in IRIB TV commercials to the success of the boycott.

This does not mean that the protests or boycott have not played a role. The fact that businesses and advertising agencies are canceling their contracts with IRIB and preparing themselves for the uncertain post-election future means that the rules of the game have indeed changed in Iran, which is a much more significant event than a mere fall in commercial activities.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

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9 Comments

I am very disturbed to see such cruelty towards animals displayed here at the beginning of this story with the

picture of a patient in Tehran's world famous hospital for retarded socio-pathetic monkeys... The Poor little Creature!!

Roman / July 12, 2009 7:15 PM

Al we hve to do is boycut radio 670amkirn right here in los angeles and we will have our FREE IRAN and FREE AMERICA!

RoseParvin / July 12, 2009 7:39 PM

Another possibility is that the people buying the advertising are disgusted with the IRIB's lack of political coverage, calling the protestors rioters, and their continuing insistance on towing the party line. I wonder if this is actually a boycott of the advertising companies, refusing to give money to a station that is a government mouthpiece rather than a legitimate journalist organization.

Cherish / July 12, 2009 7:55 PM

" a legitimate journalist organization."


That's cute. No doubt if IRIB was owned by TimesWarner, or GE, or Rupert (let me tap your cellphone) Murdoch, it would be "legitimate".

observer / July 12, 2009 10:14 PM

This comment wins the prize :


"Roman says:

July 12, 2009 at 19:15


I am very disturbed to see such cruelty towards animals displayed here at the beginning of this story with the

picture of a patient in Tehran's world famous hospital for retarded socio-pathetic monkeys... The Poor little Creature!!"


BRILLIANT SAID !!!!!!

w/love from Santa Monica

Levisma / July 13, 2009 12:46 AM

People have risen once again, this time it is an all out war, people against a despotic illegitimate regime, killing people, making clandestine deals with big companies such as Nokia and others, people of the world unite and stamp out this terror, boycott companies that deal with this regime, boycott products that advertise on IRIB the media instrument of terror.

every day people are being killed and maimed with impunity,

the more they suppress the stronger and more willing we become and our resolve to defeat and crush this terror once and for all.

Free Iran.

Down with Dictators

Neda / July 13, 2009 5:13 AM

Excellent reporting!

Roya Irani / July 13, 2009 7:20 AM

This article and the first reply is typical of Iranian expats living in the States. Your headline is a joke. The only way the state-run TV can take a hit, it would be if the "state" stop giving money to run it. Do you think ad revenues run all the local and satellite stations in Iran? You have to be kidding me. It sounds very much like Ahmadinejad's claim that the unrest in Tehran was the result of Western media. Lest do some real news and analysis.

Mehran / July 14, 2009 9:53 AM

So I see the comedian in your picture has lost his long-serving head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, who has resigned, according to the ISNA news agency. He just isn't cut out to be President of any country, never mind, Iran. As for the news in Iran, its crap news from crap Press TV & run by Ahmadinejad & Khamenei. The Devil & Satan!

v.gerrard / July 16, 2009 9:58 AM