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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 14:28 GMT
The press in Iran
Iran press graphic - Tehran's Azadi Square

Iran's newspapers are currently going through some of their hardest times, and the future is uncertain following the election of the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the country's president in June 2005.

There is a large number of daily and weekly newspapers and the press reflects a range of political viewpoints, albeit within the limits allowed by the law and constitution. All publications have to be licensed, and there have been periodic crackdowns on reformist newspapers and journalists seen as going beyond acceptable limits.

When President Ahmadinejad came to power there were fears in some quarters that this would see a renewed crackdown on pro-reform media. Although there has not been a repeat of the mass closure of newspapers that occurred in 2000, there have been reports of journalists being summoned by various official bodies and warned against publishing articles critical of the government.

The Supreme National Security Council has also intervened. In particular, it has warned the media against publishing analyses on the nuclear issue and negotiations with the US that differ from official policy.

Newspapers in Iran now face a number of major challenges. They are under pressure from their readers to be more open, while the government insists that they should not step out of line.

Readership figures are in decline and Iran's advertising market is limited. There is also a shortage of imported and domestically produced paper.

The internet is becoming a player in the Iranian media scene. Nearly seven million Iranians are now estimated to be online, and the internet is developing into a serious alternative source of news.

Sports papers enjoy the widest circulations. Some two million copies are read every morning. Their circulation often doubles after a major soccer match.

Main papers

The main conservative dailies include:

Kayhan

One of the country's oldest daily papers, run by the office of the Supreme Leader, who appoints the managing editor. Read by a conservative, religious audience. It has consistently taken a hard line on domestic and foreign policy issues and published articles about those accused of working for the CIA or other agencies. Circulation 60-100,000.


Resalat

Established in 1985 and owned by the Resalat Foundation, which has strong links to the traditional bazaar merchants - conservative but in favour of a market economy. It reflects the views of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party and the Islamic Association of Engineers. Read by a conservative, religious audience. Circulation 30,000-50,000.


Jomhuri-ye Eslami

Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, Iran's supreme leader, was the first licence holder and the paper is considered still to be closely linked to him. The paper adheres to Khomeyni's ideals and has consistently taken a radical position on foreign policy issues and a conservative position on domestic and religious issues. Circulation: n/a.


Siyasat-e Ruz

Published by Ali Yusefpur, a member of the Islamic Revolution Devotees' Society. It reflects the views of the younger generation of Iranian conservatives. It changed from weekly to daily publication in 2001 and has become increasingly influential in recent years. Circulation: n/a.


Jaam-e Jam

Owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. Its circulation of 450,000 makes it the biggest selling paper apart from the sports papers. Editorials and commentaries reflect the conservative approach of the IRIB.


Tehran Times

Affiliated to Islamic Propagation Organization. Founded in 1979, it was the first Iranian English-language daily. Its editorials are conservative, but otherwise it covers straight news stories. Circulation: 15,000


The main reformist dailies include:

Sharg

Reformist weekly that became a daily in 2003. Represents the views of the moderate technocrats typical of the Executives of Construction party. Circulation about 100,000. Sharg was ordered to close down in September 2006, accused of violating press regulations.


Aftab-e Yazd

A regional paper which went national in 2000 (former president Mohammed Khatami is from Yazd) as a way to circumvent the closure of other dailies; affiliated with the Militant Clerics Society and aides to Khatami. Circulation 160,000.


Iran

An official government newspaper published by IRNA, the state news agency. Popular with government clerks and office workers. On 23 May 2006 it was closed following publication of a cartoon which provoked protests from the country's Azeri community; the paper reappeared on 28 October. Circulation: over 100,000


Etemaad

A moderate reformist daily published by former Iran newspaper editors supervised by a leading member of the National Trust party, Elias Hazrati. Circulation: n/a.


Farhang-e Ashti

Launched in 2003. Pro-reformist but with no specific political affiliation; its main coverage is economic, social and technical issues. Circulation: n/a.


Hambastegi

Organ of the Islamic Iran Solidarity Party, one of the pro-Khatami groups. Circulation: n/a.


Mardom Salari

Organ of the centrist, pro-reform Mardom Salari Party. Managing editor Mostafa Kavakevian was formerly on the board of Hambastegi. It has been very critical of President Ahmadinejad, particularly his economic policies. Circulation: n/a.


BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.





MIDDLE EAST PRESS PROFILES
 

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Iran
18 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Iran
26 Feb 05 |  Country profiles

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