Bush administration plans media initiative in Iran

US president, George Bush’s administration is planning to expand its Persian-language satellite-television broadcasts to Iran as part of an initiative to press for democratic reforms in the Islamic Republic.

  • E-Mail
By  Vijaya Cherian Published  March 1, 2005

US president, George Bush’s administration is planning to expand its Persian-language satellite-television broadcasts to Iran as part of an initiative to press for democratic reforms in the Islamic Republic. As Bush ponders incentives to encourage Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, Voice of America plans to go from a 30-minute to a four-hour daily news and information broadcast to Iran within the next few months. "Iran is an information-deprived society, much like the former Soviet Union," Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency that oversees international civilian broadcasts including VOA, is reported to have said, according to Reuters. "A large percentage of Iranians appear to be thirsting for information. What we propose to do is exactly what Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and Radio Liberty did in the Cold War, and that is provide a window on the world," he adds. The new initiative comes as the Bush administration reviews options for dealing with Iran's nuclear programme that ranges from economic incentives to military action. Officials say the Bush administration also plans to begin Arab-language satellite-television broadcasts to Europe later this year in a new escalation of its information war against extremism. But VOA broadcasts are unlikely to have much effect in Iran any time soon, independent analysts say. "Expanding Voice of America might have some marginal impact. But I don't think it's going to create the climate for a popular uprising," says Shireen Hunter, an Iran expert at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic & International Studies. Analysts also warned that expanded broadcasts could stir nationalist distrust of the US and inadvertently strengthen the current government. "People could see it as a sign that an invasion is coming. It's the sort of thing that happens before nations build up their war effort," says Nancy Snow, a propaganda expert at California State University, Fullerton. US officials believe VOA TV broadcasts could chip away at Iran's unpopular religious leadership over time by emphasising issues of economic and political opportunity. "We're trying get people to say ... what do we want opportunity to be in Iran? Do we want a government controlled by mullahs? Do we want a government of the people?" says Tomlinson, who expects the expanded TV format to include close coverage of Iran's presidential election in June.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code