Deutsche Welle: “On the Road to Success with Farsi”

The following is a translation from German.

Main Link: http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15661633,00.html

DW, February 3, 2012

Some 70 per cent of Iranians are less than 30 years old. For the future development of the country, they are crucial. Deutsche Welle gets through to them with multi-media choices in the Persian language (Farsi).

Interactive and mobile choices, and increasingly videos – reports as well as commentary – mark the www.dw.de/persian website. The Farsi department also counts increasingly on apps and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Radio, particularly on shortwave, is hardly used among Deutsche Welle’s mostly young target audience in Iran. Therefore, in fall 2011, linear broadcast of the Persian radio program was terminated. For almost fifty years, they had been on the air from Germany.

The team around department director Jamsheed Faroughi works multi-medially and consists of about fourty members. Their coverage from and about Iran is mostly based on Persian-speaking correspondents. Add informants from all regions of the country, among them speakers of political groups, local journalists and bloggers, human-rights advocates and activists like Nobel-Peace-Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

The internet choice in Persian language is one of Deutsche Welle’s most successful ones. The website has been blocked in Iran several times, since 2009. However, users in the country are familiar with technical loop ways to load the pages anyway.

Deutsche Welle’s television program can only be received by satellite in Iran. Officially, however, satellite dishes are banned in Iran. Broadcast of DW programs over Hotbird 8 has been bugged repeatedly and selectively by the Iranian government. The signals were localized in Tehran’s immediate vicinity. Voice of America and BBC broadcasts were also affected.

IRIB Tehran QSL, 1986

Voice of Germany - we are enthused! (IRIB Tehran QSL, 1986)

Target Groups

Iran’s population is very young – some 70 per cent of the people are under 30 years old. For the political, economic and social development of the country, future multipliers are crucial. They are also those who, in the medium term, will determine public opinion formation. They are therefore our most important target audience. They are not only young, but also better educated, and partly have good English language skills. They mostly live in metropolises and bigger cities. Cosmopolitism, interest for the Western lifestyle, and rejection of fundamentalist tendencies within Islam are their characteristics. Internet and mobile phones go without saying, modern ways of communication such as blogs and texting are part of their everyday life.

Main Topics

Comprehensive, objective information from Iran and the entire region are at the center of our Farsi programs. In addition to current political news they include topics from science, technology, the environment, culture, lifestyle and sports.

There is great interest in Germany among the target groups in Iran. Above all, general information about our country and life and work in Germany are in high demand.

Iran as a Media Market

Intense competition and strong state censorship mark the Iranian media market. On the Reporters without Borders ranking, the country is on position 175, among 178 countries. All television and radio stations are controlled by the state [in the state’s hand – in staatlicher Hand]. Commercial newspapers are also closely regulated; during the past years, many renowned papers have been closed down.
Technical metropolitan development is far advanced. Practically every household has television and radio, plus internet access. Television is the main medium for current information. Nationwide, some twelve million Iranians out of 70 million have internet access, according to offical statistics, and the trend is rising. One way to access the internet are internet cafes, between 1,500 and 3,000 in Tehran alone. Particularly active users are multipliers: more than twenty per cent are online on a daily basis. Internet and above all the Iranian blogosphere play a significant role in the dissemination of uncensored information. According to estimates, there are between 50,000 and 100,000 bloggers in the country – frequently journalists and authors, who are affected by state censorship on the established media, and who therefore switch to the internet.

The government, too, tries to use the internet for propaganda. At the same time, it relies on restrictive measures. Internet providers are bound to use content filters which block undesired content and pages. Digit rates for private households have been limited to make use of audio-visual content more difficult. Currently, the government plans to build the internet into a “national intranet”. Censorship doesn’t only affect political content. Generally, programs and media choices in contradiction to the government’s concept of culture are banned. These regulations have recently been tightened.

Satellite dishes remain officially banned. On and off, the government cracks down on them, as many people evade the ban. More than 30 television channels in Farsi are courting the Iranian public from abroad.
There is a lack of reliable information about current affairs. Better-educated Iranians in particular feel a strong need for objective accounts from abroad.

Besides choices from publicly-financed foreign broadcasters, numerous non-public television and radio stations broadcast into Iran. Most of them are operated by exiled Iranians from the U.S. and from Europe. Their political and economic interests are hard to look through.

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Related

» The Persian Paradox, FOARP, January 27, 2012
» DW targets “Opinion Leaders”, May 20, 2011

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