The Mass Media
The Constitution provides for freedom of the press as long as published material accords with Islamic principles. The publisher of every newspaper and periodical is required by law to have a valid publishing license. Any publication perceived as being anti-Islamic is not granted a publication license. In practice, the criteria for being anti-Islamic have been broadly interpreted to encompass all materials that include an antigovernment sentiment. In 1987 all the papers and magazines in circulation supported the basic political institutions of the Islamic Republic.
The major daily newspapers for the country are printed in Tehran. The leading newspapers include Jumhori-yi Islami, Resalat, Kayhan, Abrar, and Ettelaat. The Tehran Times and Kayhan International are two English-language dailies in Tehran. While all these newspapers are considered to be appropriately Islamic, they do not endorse every program of the central government. For example, Jumhori-yi Islami, the official organ of the IRP before its dissolution in 1987, presents the official government line of prime minister Musavi. In contrast, Resalat is consistently critical of government policies, especially those related to the economy. The other newspapers criticize various aspects of governmental policies but do not have a consistent position.
No prior censorship of nonfiction exists, but any published book that is considered un-Islamic can be confiscated, and both the author and the publisher are liable for attempting to offend public morals or Islam. Private publishing companies thus tend to restrict their titles to subjects that will not arouse official ire. Numerous new books in history, science, geography, and classical poetry and literature have been published since 1987, including many manuscripts that had been banned under the shah. Virtually no new works of contemporary fiction, however, have appeared in print.
All radio and television broadcasting is controlled by the government. Television and radio stations exist in Tehran and the major provincial cities. Stations in Azerbaijan and Kordestan are permitted to broadcast some programs in Azeri Turkish and Kurdish. Several of the banned opposition groups broadcast into Iran from stations in Iraq or the Caucasus republics of the Soviet Union. Both the British Broadcasting Company and the Voice of America broadcast Persian-language news and feature programs to FM radio channels in Iran.
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