MediaFile

“Twitter Revolution” in Iran aided by old media — TV, radio

June 18, 2009

Media outlets covering the street demonstrations in Iran have devoted plenty of coverage to the so-called “Twitter Revolution” and the role social networking Web sites like Facebook have played in circulating photos and video taken by protesters using cell phones.

But several of the Farsi-language satellite TV and radio stations based in Southern California, with its population of as many as 500,000 residents of Iranian heritage, also have become a bulwark of opposition to Iran’s controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his disputed re-election last Friday.

Los Angeles-based satellite station  Channel One TV, which is run by expatriate Iranians, has made contributions — some of them not so old, either, as one might think from an “old media” provider of satellite TV coverage. Shahram Homayoun, the president of Channel One TV, said that before the demonstrations – although not in preparation for exactly that occurrence – it mailed out thousands of camera pens to citizens in Iran to help them document events the government wants to keep quiet. The pens pull apart to reveal a flash drive for plugging into a computer and uploading video.

Officials with Channel One said they do not know how widely the James Bond-style pens are being used in the current demonstrations in Iran. But the fact that the station even shipped them out is an indication of how much pressure stations like Channel One are putting on the Islamic Republic’s government, which has worked to block their satellite signals.

In 2006, former U.S. President George W. Bush poured $75 million into “promoting democracy” in Iran, in part by funding satellite broadcasts. But Homayoun said his station does not take any money from the U.S. government, relying instead on constant televised appeals for funds, even during his high-voltage, excited coverage of street protests.

Officials with Channel One said that their station operates on a budget of nearly $2 million a year, with a staff of 40. Beverly Hills-based satellite radio station KRSI is a decidedly smaller operation, and one host there said the donations it receives are paltry.

On Wednesday, KRSI carried an interview with Reza Pahlavi, the former crown prince of Iran (pictured at left), who over the airwaves urged on the protesters and said the demonstrations were the biggest tumult to hit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted his father. 

Listeners able to hear the programming in Iran occasionally call into the studio. Every now and then, the Iranian-American broadcasters say they receive calls from supporters of Ahmadinejad, who accuse the journalists of being traitors to their home country. “They say we are the people for America, for Israel,” said show host Hossein Mohri, who has lived in the United States for 18 years.

Farrokh Javid, 67, who left Iran in the 1980s and now hosts a morning show on KRSI called “Follow the Sun,” said he tries to make his show non-political, but that has been impossible in recent days.

Comments
6 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

To blame Twitter for it is science fiction.
I have seen post blaiming them for it.
They are not the ones posting it. The people of Iran are.
It is a start to a downfall to Irans goverment in what they do now. The whole world is watching and we know the truth.
If a Iran goverment official reads this. Let it be known, Your time is almost up.
You are on the wrong side. The true course is freedom.

Posted by Mark C Holloway | Report as abusive
 

Not surprising really, what is surprising is how much coverage these protests are receiving compared to much larger protests that are less desirable to cover. These protests in a single week have already received more coverage and interest from western media than the millions upon millions worldwide who protested against the criminal and disastrous invasion of Iraq.
There is a serious imbalance of coverage on Iran when compared to many similar elections around the world. What does Iran have that would create so much interest in their politics I wonder??

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Ha! “Much larger protests”. I remember reading about most of those protests over Iraq. There were times when the media gave more air time to the protests than what was actually happening in Iraq. They have changed plenty. People do not like to think about this but Americans still have a military presence in Germany–WWII is over 60 years dead. And people still don’t like to take their eyes off of Iraq when Americans are still fighting in South America. (Military boys die in the Drug Wars, too.) Compared to those two other things (there are more), the news coverage of Iraq is way over covered.

Why this protest is so well covered compared to other protests?

1. It has the potential change a country’s leadership, depending on how things are handled…maybe even the rights of the people. Not all protests have that power. (Not even the Chad election with Bush and Gore had that potential…and it was more covered in America (and a few other nations) than Iran’s mess.)

2. No one protesting the USA in Ireland is going to change the USA–especially when American’s protests aren’t changing the USA. Ineffective and useless protests are not newsworthy for more than it takes the phrase: “They’re having another protest about the Iraqi war in ‘name of city/town/country’.”–and only that on a slow news day.

3. For Americans, Iran doing anything while we are fighting in their backyard means we want to know what they are up to. Almost anything Iran did over the past 6 years has become newsworthy to Americans, meaning I’ve seen more on Iran than I ever wanted to.

3. Look at what Mideastern minorities ‘control’ any media in the big Western countries. (Control is a very lose word, here…and is not even seen as negative, so not thinking conspiracy theory.) There are a lot of Jewish connections in Hollywood, but a lot of Jews do not see Israel as home anymore…plus how many times can a new skirmish break out in Israel and still hold people’s interest for more than a quick glance at headlines? Out of the other often newsbreaking-minded Mideastern minorities in America, this article gives us the answer. Former Iranians have a lot of ownership/control of American airways. Apparently they are less interested in something that happens in Iraq as they are with their former homeland. There is nothing sinister about that. I’m more interested in what happens in Louisiana than I am anything that happens in Washington Iran or Iraq–and most people are like that about Home ore “where I came from”.

4. People in the countries where Iran’s possible power struggle is big news…well the people are interested in it. Some news becomes news just by how much interest people have in the information. If you are a small news group online, looking for more viewers, you report the news people are looking into, not the news no one wants to read about yet again.

There are other mundane reasons for this to be big news, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll leave it for others to puzzle out.

Posted by DragonSlaveII | Report as abusive
 

Yes, MUCH larger protests, on a global scale. While they were happening there was nothing going on in Iraq, except the illegal bombing that the US had been carrying out for the past 10 years. They hadnt even invaded yet so I dont know what youre talking about..
The US has a military in 135 countries, including germany where the bulk of their overseas forces have been since WWII.
News coverage in Iraq unlike columbia and other subversive activities in south america was a hot war, a pre-emptive attack in full view of the world. The reason it got so much attention was because the world was sick of the US attacking countries for imperialistic reasons and understood why it was interested in Iraq. As far as scandals and crimes against humanity go you dont get any bigger than that.

1. The potential for leadership change in Iran is not the basis for such massive coverage, it is way out of proportion with the event. When venezuelans took to the streets to demand the return of chavez after a US backed coup how much coverage did they receive, and it what capacity?

2. Protests should not be covered on their “uselessness”, they are covered based on their size and relevance to the viewing population.

3. Anything Iran has done in the last 6 years has been news in america because you have created the interest. It has been targeted by your government for obvious reasons thus the campaign begins to demonize the regime and create negative interest in the same way it was done for Iraq in the lead up to the invasion.
Without the interest your government and media have created there would be no real interest in Iran. There’s an obvious reason the US is interested in Iraq and Iran, because there are much much worse regimes out there who receive very little attention.

3?. Im not really sure what you’re trying to say here, something about former Iranian businessmen and some Jews not believing in Israel and that having something to do with Jewish ownership of media.. gonna leave that one alone.

4. There are many issues that people are very interested in that go underreported and issues that people aren’t interested in that get over-reported. I think its obvious in this case where the interest was created and for what reasons. There are many examples to draw on to prove this in recent memory. For the sake of education, if you cant solve the “puzzle” on your own, I can show you.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Brian,

The pre-Iraq War protests in Iran were not big news because 1) it wasn’t really news that Iran would not want the US military moving in next door, and 2) the Iranian regime was strongly encouraging such demonstrations.

Posted by hoipolloi | Report as abusive
 

hoipolloi,

1. I wasn’t talking about the pre-war protests in Iran but rather the worldwide protests as I said in the first line of my comments.

2. The Iranian opposition are strongly encouraging the current protests, is it making them less newsworthy?

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

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