Iran media guide

An Iranian woman uses her smartphone while walking along a street-side in northern Tehran on February 23, 2022
[Getty Images]

All broadcasting from Iranian soil is controlled by the state and reflects official ideology. There is a wider range of opinions online and in the press.

Iran is one of the world's most repressive countries for journalists, says Reporters Without Borders. They are "constantly subjected to intimidation, arbitrary arrest and long jail sentences imposed by revolutionary courts at the end of unfair trials".

Television is more popular than radio and newspapers, but surveys in recent years have found the public are increasingly ditching the state broadcaster, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), for social media as their main source of news.

All broadcasting is controlled by the state and propagates state policy and ideology. IRIB faces a growing challenge from mobile apps, especially Telegram and Instagram, for news and live coverage of events.

Although private ownership of satellite TV receiving equipment is technically illegal, there is a big audience for foreign-based Persian-language satellite channels. Around 70% of households have a satellite dish.

Debate in the press takes place within legal restrictions and unwritten red lines. Criticism of Islam, the late Ayatollah Khomeini or Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is not tolerated in the domestic press or broadcast media, and nor is questioning the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic.

Recent governments have pledged to enhance press freedom but bans on news outlets and crackdowns on journalists are still commonplace.

Dozens of Persian-language stations broadcast from the USA, Europe and Dubai.

Western broadcasters, including BBC Persian TV, target Iranian audiences. Their satellite broadcasts have suffered from deliberate interference from within Iran.

IRIB's radio channels include a parliamentary network, Radio Koran and a multilingual external service.

The press reflects a range of political viewpoints, albeit within unwritten rules or "red lines". Few Iranians buy a newspaper every day. Sport titles are the biggest sellers.

There were 78 million internet users by July 2022, comprising 91% of the population (Internetworldstats.com).

The authorities routinely block or filter websites they consider objectionable. Targeted content includes that deemed to be pornographic or anti-Islamic.

Iranians use virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods to circumvent filtering.

Facebook, although blocked, is among the most popular social media platforms. Twitter is blocked for ordinary citizens, but leaders and senior officials are active on it. Instagram is a staple of social media life.

Press

Television

  • IRIB - state-run, operates provincial, national and international services

  • Press TV - IRIB's English-language satellite channel

  • Al-Alam - IRIB network in Arabic

Radio

  • IRIB - state-run, operates eight national networks, provincial services and an external service

News agencies