Globe, World

Spanish language TV channel in Iran

This country has launched Hispan TV, in order to broadcast its ideological legitimacy to a Spanish speaking audience, according to Ezatollah Zarqami, the head of Iran’s state television network, IRIB.

Laura Cronk

The huge majority of this intended audience resides in Latin America. The channel (the first Spanish language TV channel in Iran), presumably intends to reinforce already existing ties between Iran and many Latin American states, notably Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil, which Iranian President Ahmadinejad visited in November 2009.

Speaking at the inaugural event of Radio Iran in Turkish, in 2010, Zarqami announced that “As half of the world’s population speaks Spanish we will start a network within the next few months”.

The channel follows the mission of Press TV, the existing Iranian English Language channel, whose stated aim is “to provide accurate and unbiased coverage of Middle East events as they unfold.”

The trend for foreign language channels as a ‘soft power’ approach continues with China set to launch an Arabic service to broadcast ‘the real China’ to the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran intends to use Hispan TV to combat what it sees as unfair Western media coverage, especially on recent high profile issues such as the stoning of women in adultery cases.

It seeks to give Latin Americans a better understanding of Islamic ideology, which is not only a religion but a political system.

Despite television outreach to other nations and cultures, Iran is more recalcitrant about allowing foreign television into the country.

State television network IRIB is often accused of scrambling foreign broadcasts which it sees as opposition, notably BBC Persian TV and the Voice of America in Farsi.

Iranian people are not allowed satellite TV in their homes; illegal dishes are routinely confiscated in police crackdowns.

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