Saturday, December 27, 2008

How New Year is beginning in Gaza?

Today more than 60 Isreali F-16 bombers attacked Gaza and officals annonced more than 200 ordinary people killed and about 700 others were wonded.

Isreal army claims these air stricks are responding to Hamas rocket attacks into Isreal, Gaza was blockade for several months and it seems in the eve of new year Israili warplanes fireing death upon inocent people living there, the people who are victims of both Islamists and Isreali militarism and sufforing for basic needs.

Hamas is not obeying the Mahmoud Abbas government and just cause more tension, reveals its power and deepening Islamic fundamentalism in the region and I think at the other side someone in Israel also need them!

I couldn’t find my Palestinian and Israeli Bloggers friends in the past days, but I am sure all of them are in deep shock and sadness, those of who in both side insist war just cause disgust and I am sure Gaza’s people under Islamic government are the real victims of both side.

Many Persian blogs wrote about this horrible situation in Gaza and some of them use Muslims Bloggers Banner in their blog, I am wondering how is possible to be leftist, atheist and against Islamic Republic and use their banner to support Gaza’s people?

As far as I know these 'Muslims bloggers' who dependent to some governmental organization are accusing to have the main rule to monitor, investigating and spying against the majority of Iranian bloggers who are secular, not supporting IR’s propaganda, or atheists, feminists and leftists.

I wrote once about Gaza in Zamaneh which was so popular, but I hope I don’t need to write more,… we are living with our hopes specially in the New Year 's time, so lets hope this painful long story will end soon!

Related Story: I am Gaza Citizen Too!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Long story of my critic on BBC Persian !

After about 70 years in existence, the BBC Persian Service is
naturally a household name in Iran. In a move calculated to expand its
reach in the Islamic Republic, BBC Persian has ventured into
television. Launch is just weeks away.

Though satellite television is illegal in Iran, more than half its
urban dwellers have access to satellite television by some estimates.
Over the past few years, the number of Persian-language satellite
stations has continued to grow. At last count, there were about 50
stations, most of which are based in Los Angeles, home to the largest
Iranian expat community.

BBC Persian Television will be a much welcome addition. The quality of
Persian-language satellite programs are generally very poor. Still
they have a large audience in Iran because the younger generation
tunes in for Western music programs and to hear the latest Iranian pop
music that is illegal in Iran. Other than music, much of the political
or even social programming offered by these stations do not appear to
be taken very seriously by many people, especially the youth. Still,
from time to time, officials enforce the ban and take down people's
satellite dishes and haul the owners to court. Just as authorities
filter Websites—including the BBC's—they scramble programs and it will
be interesting to see how the BBC deals with that.

The launch of BBC Persian Television should have a major effect on the
state of television culture in Iran in general. In the absence of
independent television on the one hand, and amateur-level programming
from the stations abroad on the other, many will refer to the BBC for
news and other information. Because the bar is so low, the BBC will
not have to work hard to look good. But I hope the powers that be will
make use of their basket full of resources to put out a product that
will live up the BBC brand name. I hope they just don't attempt to get
by, because they know they can get away with it. As noted, they don't
have much competition, and not many outside of the BBC Persian Service
division speak Persian to gauge the quality of their programs.

The view from the outset isn't promising. Stories and rumors
circulating around for the past few months have called into question
its recruiting and hiring methods and decisions, the background and
experience of those they have chosen to fill the top TV posts, even
the neutrality of its politics. I certainly hope I am wrong in seeing
it that way and I hope that my own experience isn't a harbinger of
things to come.

I wrote a critique of a training video the BBC put out recently. It
was published on the Radio Zamaneh Website. I got quite an earful
about it. This article was the most-read on the site. There were more
than 100 hits just from the BBC alone. Among the 30 comments, and
emails to me, many came out in the defense of the organization that
signs their checks. I was criticized for making a judgment about the
quality of BBC TV so early on in the process, for being too harsh and
bitter in tone, and even accused of trying to settle a personal

Still I don't know how that can be the case. First of all, in order to
make sure I hadn't written anything that could be construed as
offensive to my former colleagues, I reviewed my final draft a few
times—to little avail apparently.

Secondly, I was writing about the technical aspects of a video—a training video at that.
Be it the latest Ridley Scott film, or a BBC video, I am a critic. That's what I
do. I have been writing about media and cinema for 18 years. There
were at least 11 obvious flaws in the short nine-minute span of this
clip. Given all their resources, I thought it fell short. One expects
a lot more from the BBC, one that sets out to train others in the

And this was just my point of view on the technical aspect of it. What
would happen if I started to comment on the content of their work?

Citing copyright infringement, the BBC contacted Radio Zamaneh and had
them take down seven screenshots I had used from the training video to
illustrate my point.

In the time I worked there, this had never happened.
I asked friends at the BBC World Service and they were more
or less of the opinion that I had not violated copyright law. I am
still waiting to hear back from their legal department.

It would be usefule if we know that more than 60 procent of people in large cities using satelite TV chanales and most frequnetly Persian channals, then notice that why analysing, critc and study on this channels seems so importanat for media researchers to better understanding of media policy and contents of these channels.

This job should be done and improving more and more by researcher to know how such studies can get interact with other relvant variables in the daily life and discovering how the facts could be massuring by analytical and scnitific methods.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BBC Persian TV is launching!

We finally had some good news: BBC Persian Service, the second professional news and television program, is slated to launch by the end of the year.

Many of the journalists and editors of PTV -- as the BBC refers to it-- are my old friends and colleagues and most of them have no TV background. But there is no need for panic, the BBC always offers the best (or one of the best) training programs. Almost all of the 70 PTV employees have now completed their courses on TV journalism. BBC Persian TV has only one rival: VOA Persian, news and feature programs run by VOA out of Washington. DC, but many experts believe the quality and content of the VOA programs do not meet BBC standards.

There appears to be a huge gap between the producers of VOA's PersianTV programs and the youth in Iran, who make up the majority of the population. Furthermore, VOA is considered to be one-sided and biasedin its reporting and pursues an approach toward Iran that is old fashioned.

The BBC Persian Service is considered to be conservative, but one that seeks to maintain its ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It has been criticized for not being impartial, even for being pro regime, or at least favorable to the reformist faction of the Iranian government. But the BBC's standards of neutrality, balance and responsibility in reporting require it to have a rational relationship with any government in Iran.

The BBC works hard to keep a correspondent and an office in Tehran. But requests by its Persian service to open an office in Tehran has been rejected many times. The IR has also banned the BBC Persian website, which has "millions" of visitors each month, mostly fromIran.

I remember when I was dispatched to cover a demonstration against Khatami in front of Chatham House in London; When I asked anti-regime Iranians for a short interview, most of them answered with anger and disappointment at the BBC Persian Service and blamed it for supporting the regime.

I can understand their feelings, but I cannot understand why they expect the BBC to act as a subversive media outlet. But I also know that most of those same Iranians living abroad check the BBC Persian Service website everyday and get most of their information from there.

In Iran, the BBC appears to be more popular, in my survey that I conducted last year, more than 90% of students who asked to said they would welcome BBC PTV as a new source of news.

In this survey most of the students said they use the internet and Persian satellite TV to access the latest news on Iran and international issues or even entertainment, while also watching IRIB news programs.

While some experts like Massoumeh Torfeh correctly believe BBC Persian TV may face challenge to Iran’s media market, there are many factors that can workin its favor to woo viewers and catch eyes on this new channel, including trust, influence and having a good relationship in Iran, we can also count on young editors in BBC Persian TV.

But it is obvious that these factors are not enough. The BBC needs to cover the different needs of its audience. In my survey, a majority of students suggested a 50-50 breakdown between news and non political programs.

From this point of view, maybe no TV background of almost all of editors come out, if they don't involve more TV people especially those who came from Iran in editorial and gate keeping system.

BBC Persian TV has an eye on its Arabic channel, and another on its competitors. but may be the only answer for knowing, making and involving audience is focus on research and survey, The BBC Persian radio service generally has no more than a 5% audience, and the website is completely filtered in Iran. So the only way for the BBC to find its way into the living room of Iranians is through satellite TV. By some estimates, more than 60% urban households have satellite television, though it is illegal.

I will write more on BBC PTV, while some blatherers in some notorious websites in Iran published my name as one of three cavalier of this TV (while I am not involve in any part of it), but I like the promotion compliment of being a cavalier of media!

So thank you!


The Long Story of My Critic on BBC Persian!
The Paradox of Iranian Media


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Iran's Human rights violation in the shadow of nuclear issue

On the same day that Saeid Jalili, Iran's nuclear negotiator, was preparing two pages full of mistakes and silly plans for a nuclear summit in Geneva, an Islamic Revolution Court in Sannadaj, a large city in the Kurdistan Province of Iran, sentenced Hana Abdi, a 21-year-old student and feminist activist, to five years in jail in exile, in a small city near the border where political prisoners are held alongside common criminals.

Hana Abdi, captured 9 month ago, was accused of atheism, warfare, and activity against national security, but her lawyer has said there is no evidence in his client's file to back up the claims.
Abdi was arrested with Ronak Safarzadeh, who is still in Intelligence Minstery lockup. Similarly, Safarzadeh is accused of atheism, warfare, and terrorist plotting. Her confessions are the only evidence against her in her file. During her stay at the Intelligence Ministry, it was reported at least twice that she was transferred to a hospital, leading to reports she was tortured into confessing to crimes.

Iran's jails are the most dangerous in the world, not only for political activists, but for ordinary people as well, who are captured violating obligatory Islamic rules such as the mandatory wearing of the Hijab. Many girls have been beaten and raped in recent years, and some killed. There are lots of cases of "suicide" in jails; families believe the "suicides" are victims of rape and murder by interrogators.

All attempts to investigate such claims of torture, rape, and murder in jails get blocked by the court system. Ronak and Hana [pdf] are not the only young girls accused of atheism and warfare; there are feminists, leftist activists, and students in jail on such charges. Some are kidnapped and disappeared for months; there is a deep fear that they may be killed at any moment.
While most of the news coverage of Iran is focused on the nuclear issue, finding reports on the daily and systematic human rights violations happening inside Iran is rare to the point of being nonexistent. The nuclear issue casts a deep shadow over international coverage, obscuring what is happening to 70 million Iranians, people who suffering from Iran's brand of political Islam.

President Ahamdinejad's government - which says Iran's people are getting happier - is at the same time trying to tighten the noose with heavy sentences like capital punishment around students, feminists, teachers, workers, and political activists.

On the same day Ahmadinejad was on NBC saying Iranians are lucky to live under a dictatorship, 29 young men were hanged in Evin prison, some of them younger than 20.
While Ahmadinejad was smiling and saying to NBC, "You shouldn't be worried about the Iranian people," eight young women and one man are awaiting a sentence of death by stoning for adultery.

While the world continues to focus on the never-ending nuclear negotiations with Iran, Iran's human rights violations should play a part in the discussions [pdf].
Published in: The Seminal

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Persain Satellite TV,new challenge for I.R Iran

This is my research paper`s abstract has accepted to be presented in: Global Communication Confrence in Oman. 1

Persian Satellite TV, new challenge for IRI
Omid Habibinia
Media Researcher
IAMCR, IFJ, SJV (Switzerland)

Less than one decade ago, the first Persian Sat TV was received in Iran; but nowadays more than 35 Sat TVs are broadcasting different programs for Iran in abroad, mainly from US and still there will be more.

The appearing Persian Sat TVs channels brought up some socio/cultural changes in the urban areas. As the number of the these channels viewers lifted up to more than 50 percent, the gap between them and the Islamic values got wider and at the same time affected some aspects of daily life in Iran such as media habits, getting news and social discourse.

This study will take a look at the presentations of these channels in Iran and will review the process and the way they approach, facing a dynamic society in Iran; it will try to describe why this market/society needs more channels and alternative media.
the other hand, IRI´s media and specially IRIB are deeply affected by these Sat TV channels. However, since their appearance, they have encountered these channels in three phases: ignorance, enmity and now inactivating.

In Addition, we will take a look to some polls, which have been done by the researcher during last 2 years; these show how young audience, who are the potential viewers of Sat TVs dealing with alternative media and what they expect from them.
Some part of the questionnaires was spread in last summer among 1400 students in Tehran and some universities around the country regarding to expected BBC Persian TV channel. It shows most of them prefer alternative media to reach the news and information for dealing their socio/politics and cultural needs.

The study also tries to show the success and the weak points of the Persian TV programs together with their media policy and a society who is very dynamic and needs for diversity.

A society which has now nearly the most Sat TV channels in the world broadcasted in abroad.
Related Stories:
1-The paper has accepted to persented in the Seven Biennial Confrence on Iranain Studies At University of Toronto ,but I cant manage to present it myself, The Media pannel also canceld due the absence of speechers, This paper also accepted by Global Communication Confrence to be held in October in Universiyt of Oman.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iranians supporting Obama?

A few months till US presidential elections, many Iranians think democrats will be the best choice for the US foreign policy toward Iran.

I know many Iranians and Iranian-Americans who support Barack Obama, not only because he is democrat or came from a minority but also he looks intellectual.

Comparing Obama to McCain or G.W.Bush shows how deep is the difference.

In my opinion many Iranians prefer democrats, they may remember what happened when Shah supported Republicans and Carter won, he insisted for freedom of speech in Iran which called in Iran” Open Political Era”, but regime was so corrupted so any open era couldn’t save it, we have the same situation with Islamic Republic that many believe no reform can not carry on.

When Obama, talked about Iranian Bloggers, many of 1.5 million bloggers repeat his words and welcomed mentioning by a democrat.

I had wrote about a draft for death sentence for Iranian bloggers last week and recently three political prisoner in Iran sentenced to death and at the same time Ahamdinejad interviewed with NBC talked about luckyness and happiness of people, people who in the heat of hot summer have no electricity and water for more than 5 hours, people who more than 45% of them are under of the poverty line, people who even can not choose what to wear,…

Many Iranians believe, we need more support by the world, voices like Obama in his historical speech in Berlin, will influenced more than some politicians like G.W Bush who seems to be more like cowboy than a president.

Cowboys can always do business and sometimes do stupid adventures, I really hope we have rational and close relationship between two nation after Obama.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Death Penalty for Iranian Bloggers

A few weeks ago, the Islamic Parliament in Iran approved a draft law which shocked the country and is at the center of current debate.

The draft law is asking for expanded sentencing for those who publish atheistic articles and pornographic materials and facing them to death.

In that draft, journalists, bloggers and intellectuals publishing such articles are considered same like crimes such as rape, sex slave exporters, banditry, prostitution, depravity, and kidnapping.

According to this draft, which was approved for faster review by the majority of Majlis [Iranian members of Parliament], the death sentence could be used against bloggers, journalists, artists, and intellectuals who can be easily falsely accused and convicted by intelligence services or the judiciary branch for publishing "articles against Islam."

Beside China, Iran is the most dangerous country for the bloggers and maintains one of the tightest controls over the Internet. Yet, more than 1.5 million bloggers write daily about their life, publishing about local news or criticizing government and mandatory Islamic rules. Based on Alexa, Iranian internet users are eager to read blogs as a source of news, semi-news, gossips, or entertainment.

Blog providers inside Iran are very sensitive to the content of blogs they host. If they find an anti-Islamic or pornography focused blog, they immediately delete it. If they ignore the blog, the filtering center in the Communication Ministry will delete it. My Persian language blog, like many blogs and websites criticizing the regime, is banned and filtered inside Iran by either the service providers or the government.

This new draft law, which brought waves of criticism against new conservative Majlis, including from major EU and human rights organizations, brings the prospect of harsh suppression of intellectuals and bloggers. The death penalty is an option.

To underscore the point, there are many political prisoners in the notorious jails inside Iran who are there because they have been accused of atheism or have been targeted by fatwas issued by top mullahs including the Supreme Leader Khamenehei. Under Islamic law in Iran, the sentences these people face include beheading, crucifing, whiping, executing and the cutting hands and feet.

Bloggers inside Iran believe the draft law is created to threaten youth and intellectuals, as well as suppressing freedom of speech and expression.

Published in: The Seminal

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

English Plz!

NYT reported that I.R.Iran has distributed a letter in 5+1+1 meeting in Geneva last week full of dictation and grammer mistakes, it seems nobody in Tehran do not take this meeting seriously!

There was nobody in the Foreign Ministry or Security Council of regime who can write an understandable letter?

Or they wanted to bewail western diplomates?

Of course in that cabinet there are a lot of Mullahs and fanatic ideologues who usually talk and write in Persian that most of people can not understand, we can  only understand Ahmadinejad`s speech and really laugh...

The brilliant tactic used to write that two-pages informal letter is the same as I.R. Iran`s leaders always doing, talk about something which is not demanded by audience!

BTW, noboday in Geneva didn't know how to rise Islamic Republic`s flag?
Or that was like IR`s letter a sign?

So it seems nuclear talks is going to be interpreted by linguistic and Semiotics instead of diplomatic language!

interesting... I like that move...!

Friday, July 11, 2008

I am Gaza Citizen too

A few months ago, when Gaza was in the siege and Israel cut fuel supply for Gaza’s power station, I wrote a personal note in Radio Zamaneh website in pseudonym.

I wrote about my friends in Gaza and Israel and tragedy over there the Title was: ”… and Gaza sinks in darkness”.

That was the night which about 1.5 millions of people spend in darkness. I wrote about Dr. Mona El-Farra and some of my online friends and all miserable people who suffered from hunger and sanction.

The article has got one of the most articles hits in the website and also the link in Balatarin, Persian version of Digg, was the top link of the week.

Although, there were some users asking me, why do you supporting Palestinians? They argued Islamic Republic spending a lot of money for them while there are peoples in Iran who need Electricity, roads and health services also.

I didn’t answer them, but I don’t understand why some young users believe Iran’s government send money to Palestinians, we may guess they support Hezbollah or all fundamentalists groups in the region including Hamas, but what to do with Palestinians people?

They don’t spend money to somewhere there is no benefits, so they just use them for propaganda.

In my article, there was some links to my Israelis and Palestinians bloger friends, I also send a message to Mona and ask her if she like to do an interview , but it was reasonable got no answer during the blackout.

I really respect her and got some comments from Rami Almeghari a journalist in Gaza for the news (at that time I was news editor of Radio Zamaneh).

But a few days later checked her blog for news about ending blackout, I found a comment from a small group in Islamic Republic called themselves private news agency which actually running by government institutions.

Someone form the link of my article found her blog and wrote there we are supporting you and representing your suffers in our “Alternative” news agency!

Then they cut and past some lines of my article and my news from Radio Zamaneh to their website to show how an “Alternative” news agency works!

Usually we are calling Alternative media to whom are different from main stream or hegemonic, government’s media, But they also copy & past my comment there in their name again, and called themselves “Alternative” media.

The way they use Palestine conflict and Palestinians are like the way they use such terms like “Alternative Media”.

On the other hand, I,like many Iranians who have empathy with Israelis, have a lot of Israelis journalists and blogers friends, every time hearing about an attack against innocent children and people of Israel; I think what kind of ideology can make a tribe, a group or a band so violent and without mercy, how do they think with killing innocent people could dive directly to heaven?

I am happy the conflict with two side is seems calmed down now.

Although the situation in Gaza is not improved yet, But I am sure many people in that region know what is Islamic Republic’s propaganda for.