New Restrictions on the Media
The press in Iran has been threatened and curtailed several times since the new administration of president Ahmadinejad took office last June. In yet another similar measure, the Ministry of Islamic Guidance, which controls the media in this country, issued a directive to press publications which in practice bans them from quoting all available news sources in their reporting. READ MORE
According to the letter, this decision was reached after long discussions at the National Security Council. The letter lists 24 ‘reliable and valid’ news sources which may be used by the media to publish their news. These news sources are said to have official permits from Iranian authorities to operate in the country. The news agencies include IRNA, ISNA student news agency, Fars news agency, IPNA sports news agency, Miras (CHN cultural heritage news agency), Shana, IQNA Quran news agency, Shabestan religious news agency, YJC (Young Journalists Club, Bashgahe Khabarnegarane Javan), IANA, IUNA, Palestine Information Center (Markaze Etelaatresani Felestin), IRIBNEWS (Vahed Markazi Khabar), ILNA labor news agency, Mehr news agency, PANA (aka Pars News Agency), Shabakeh Khabar Daneshjoo (student news agency), Moj, ANA (which publishes Asre Emrouz), ITNA information technology news, Gods, Sina, Iska News, and ISJA (government agency affiliated to rightwing political factions).
According to the directive, news agencies are not permitted to quote or translate news items from ‘suspicious’ news sources. The directive defines suspicious news sources to be those that ‘negate the achievements of the Islamic revolution, and the popular (democratic), anti-corruption and anti-imperialist spirit of the ninth government (i.e. that of president Ahmadinejad), and particularly the scientific achievements of the past year in Iran.”
The directive warns newspapers that their publications or news service would be jeopardized if they publish news or reports from sources other than those on its list.
Because of this directive, many newspapers and news agencies in Iran did not quote or publish any news reports from sites that are not listed on the ministry’s instructions. Even those Iranian operated news websites that are close to the Iranian regime but occasionally raise criticism over some official policies or views, such as Aref, Farda, Baztab, Alef, and Aftab are now included in this ban and must follow the new guidelines. This new method of censorship and control comes after the Iranian regime has tried other methods to control the printed media. When it first assumed power, the ninth government of the Islamic regime summoned many journalists, reporters and writers to its security agencies and warned them about publishing and writing on the sensitive nuclear and economic policies of the government. Then came the filters that were imposed on many news websites such as Emrouz, Rooz Online, and BBC Persian Service. Then many publications were the target of judicial suites, resulting in the trial and sentencing of many journalists.
It appears that as the nuclear crises approaches its final hours of decision, the government will impose even controls and restrictions on the media in an effort to control public opinion over the issue.