Middle East

Iran profile - media

Woman serfing the web at a Tehran internet cafe

The struggle for influence and power in Iran is played out in the media.

All broadcasting from Iranian soil is controlled by the state and reflects official ideology. A wider range of opinion may be found online and in the printed press.

However, many pro-reform outlets have been closed and their writers and editors imprisoned. Iran is "among the five biggest prisons in the world" for journalists, Reporters Without Borders said in 2011.

Television is the most-popular medium, reaching more than 80% of Iranians. State-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting - IRIB - operates national and provincial services. Its international networks include English-language Press TV. The most-watched domestic network is IRIB's youth channel.

Image caption Iranians have access to several major daily newspapers

Despite a ban on using satellite equipment, foreign TV stations are widely watched; this is largely tolerated by the authorities.

Western broadcasters, including BBC Persian TV, target Iranian audiences. Their satellite broadcasts have suffered from deliberate interference from within Iran.

IRIB's radio channels include a parliamentary network, Radio Koran and a multilingual external service.

There are some 20 major national dailies, but few Iranians buy a newspaper every day. Sports titles are the biggest sellers.

Iran online

There were 42 million internet users by September 2012, comprising more than 50% of the population (InternetWorldStats.com). The web is the main forum for dissident voices. Access is easy to arrange and affordable for middle-class households.

News sites often have strong political leanings. There are tens of thousands of weblogs, with bloggers active in Iran and among the diaspora. Officials, including President Ahmadinezhad, have launched blogs.

Iran boosted its web blocking efforts after the disputed 2009 presidential election.

The authorities exercise technical controls (filtering, limiting bandwidth) and implement legal and regulatory curbs. Censorship extends to political and human rights sites.

Blocked sites have included Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr and YouTube. A Revolutionary Guard "cyber army" is said to hack opposition sites. Bloggers and online activists have been arrested.

Iran says it is developing a "national internet"; some observers say this will sever the country from the global web. "The construction of this parallel internet, with a high connection speed but fully monitored and censored, is supposed to be completed in the very near future," said Reporters Without Borders in March 2013.

The press


  • IRIB - state-run, operates provincial, national and international services
  • Press TV - IRIB's English-language satellite channel
  • Al-Alam - IRIB network in Arabic


  • IRIB - state-run, operates eight national networks, provincial services and an external service

News agencies