According to Ayandeh Online, a web-based publication in Iran, beginning in February a state “institution” will begin operating a new television station in the country. The article states that cultural officials within this “institution” have criticized the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic, Iran’s main public broadcaster, for not being sufficiently “revolutionary”.
The new channel, which could be called “Asr” will be centered on the themes of the Islamic Revolution, Holy Defense (Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988), and the Islamic Awakening (the regime’s terminology for the Arab Spring). This channel will begin with four hours of programming per day, and by March increase to six hours.
According to Ayandeh Online, this “institution” will both manage the channel and create its content. The channel will be formed pursuant to Article 44 of the Iranian constitution and be financially independent of the Voice and Visage and dependent on the “institution.” In the past, Article 44 has been interpreted as allowing for privatization, although it has yet to be applied to the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic. In practice Article 44 has most prominently been used by quasi-state entities, for example those with ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and charitable religious foundations (bonyads), to expand the scope of their economic activities.
While the the media reporting on this new television channel do not specify which “institution” is supposed to supervise it, the signs thus far may point to the IRGC, or perhaps the Basij Organization, as the best candidates. Could this be the latest move in the IRGC’s expanding media sphere? Stay tuned to find out!