The Voice of America-produced program, News & Views, will be broadcasted across Iran by satellite from 9:30 pm to 10:00 PM local time, featuring original news reporting and aimed at Iran’s younger population.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees all U.S. international nonmilitary broadcasting, including VOA, decided to launch the program after student protests against the Iranian government last month.
Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the BBG, said the new program intends to provide Iranians with an alternative to government-controlled newscasts.
“By reporting what’s happening in Iran today, we can help further the struggle for freedom and self-determination in Iran,” Tomlinson said in a press statement July 3.
“If ever there was a time when the people of Iran need sound, factual reporting on their country, it is now.”
The program includes world news summaries, analysis of issues and events and cultural features. The new show will feature reports contributed from inside Iran, as well as Washington, New York, Los Angeles and around the world.
The BBG already broadcasts two weekly television programs in Farsi: Roundtable with You, a 90-minute discussion show, and Next Chapter, a weekly newsmagazine. The BBG also funds Radio Farda, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, youth-oriented Persian-language radio service.
News & Views, scheduled to run through at least September 30, is expected to cost up to $500,000 and will use existing VOA staff and Radio Farda stringers in Iran.
Satellite television — while banned by the Iranian government — is a top source of news in Iran, where some 70 percent of the population, roughly 67 million people, is under 30.
American officials hope the new U.S.-funded broadcast will complement the work of the National Iranian Television, NITV, a satellite channel operated by Iranian exiles based in Los Angeles, Calif. Iranian clerics have blamed NITV’s 24-hour daily broadcasts for fomenting dissent and student protests last month.
The Iranian government has also accused the U.S. of bankrolling the NITV and of using the new program to interfere in its internal affairs.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher last week rejected Iran’s allegations that the U.S. sought to intervene through its new satellite broadcast.
“We don’t consider that providing information is getting involved or interfering in anything,” Boucher said at a briefing July 3.
“The Voice of America provides information. It’s a standard tool of our public diplomacy to help inform people overseas,” Boucher added.
The show’s premiere of News & Views included the first of a special series of reports on events leading up to the fourth anniversary of the Iranian government’s July 9, 1999 violent crackdown on student uprisings in Iran.
Fearing more student protests this week, Iranian authorities have banned rallies for Wednesday July 9, postponed university examinations, and closed dormitories, the British Guardian reported Monday.