Iran Government and Media
Government Type: Islamic Republic
Supreme Leader: Ayatollah Khamenei serves as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution as well as the head of state.
Leader: President Hassan Rouhani since 2013
Political Party: Moderation and Development Party
Political Position: Centrist
World Press Freedom Rank: Iran 170/180 (2019)
According to Reporters without Borders, “Iran has been one of the world’s most repressive countries for journalists for the past 40 years. State control of news and information is unrelenting and at least 860 journalists and citizen-journalists have been imprisoned or executed since 1979.”
Government Influence on Media: The Supreme Leader of Iran is Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and he controls media through the country’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance which is responsible for regulating and supervising media. They do this through controlling licensing of media outlets, issuing and revoking licences of news organizations and regulation of News content. They also issue work permission for foreign and local journalists. Journalists and publications are subject to the Press Law with the Press Court hearing most cases relating to journalists and publications. The Iranian constitution’s article 24 states “Publications and the press are free to discuss issues unless such is deemed harmful to the principles of Islam or the rights of the public. The law shall determine the details of this exception.” This law has been criticized by Human Rights Watch as being too vague and “the terms of the Press Law give little meaningful guidance to journalists and editors, while providing officials with ample opportunity to censor, restrict, and find offense.” Therefore, journalists in Iran are often jailed for “spreading propaganda against the ruling system,” or “conspiring against officials and insulting authorities.” According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the other reasons stated for prosecution are for publishing “lies,” “slander,” “falsehoods,” “fabrication,” “propaganda against the State,” or “insulting the leadership.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is the state organization in charge of domestic and overseas broadcasting. The Chairman of IRIB is appointed for 5 year terms by the Supreme Leader. The State directly funds IRIB. Further, it also generates revenue through advertising. During nationwide anti-government protests in 2019, the Iranian government also imposed an internet blackout, which lasted one week.
In summary, the state essentially has 100% control over the media.