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17 Oct 2008
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More about our work in Iran
The BBC World Service Trust is working in partnership with the BBC Persian service to raise journalism standards and create an alternative, youth-oriented media source in the country's highly regulated media environment.

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

The relatively free press, a tangible achievement of former President Khatami's government, has been targeted by conservatives.
Many pro-reform publications have been closed and reformist writers and editors jailed. The conservative judiciary has also campaigned against the liberal media.

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

Broadcasters are more restricted than the press. Despite a ban on owning dishes, foreign satellite TV channels are widely watched; this is largely tolerated by the authorities. Stations operated by exiles in the US were said to have played a role in student protests in 2003.

State-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting - IRIB - operates national and provincial networks. Its Jaam-e Jam international TV channels are available worldwide via satellite. IRIB targets Arabic speakers in Iraq and the Middle East via the Al-Alam and Al-Kawthar TV networks.

It launched an English-language satellite station, Press TV, in 2007. President Ahmadinejad said its mission would be "to stand by the oppressed of the world".

Television is very popular, with more than 80% of Iranians being regular viewers. The most-watched network is the third state channel, the youth channel.
  • Iran has a population of 68.5 million
  • 75% of Iranians are aged under the age of 30 - this percentage is growing
  • The BBC radio has 80% recognition inside Iran
  • 10 million Iranians have internet access
  • 2.4 million Iranians listen to the BBC Persian Service
  • 80% of Iranians are regular TV viewers
IRIB's radio channels include a parliamentary network and Radio Koran. The Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an external radio service, broadcasts via shortwave and the internet.

Millions of Iranians have access to the internet, which has been used as a way of circumventing censorship. Internet service providers are prevented from allowing access to sites deemed to be pornographic or anti-Islamic, but the web remains the main forum for dissident voices. Access is easy to arrange and affordable for middle-class households.

There are said to be tens of thousands of weblogs, with bloggers active both in Iran and among the diaspora. Government officials, including President Ahmadinezhad, have launched blogs under their own names. The government has been known to block websites and arrest online journalists who provide impartial news and analysis.
Foreign broadcasters target audiences in Iran; they include the Washington-backed Radio Farda, a music-based station aimed at younger audiences.

Iran has a youthful population and the average age is decreasing. A large number of young people are keen to access the Internet to access information and communicate across borders. The major challenge is to enable them to participate in the development of their country and make informed decisions.
Our work
The ZigZag project has created ZigZagmag, an interactive virtual newsroom to enable aspiring Iranian journalists to generate high quality content for a variety of BBC platforms, including the BBC affiliated Persian sites and the ZigZag radio show, broadcast weekly on World Service airwaves.
ZigZagmag consists of an audience-focused online space where young Iranian trainees from all over the country can experience the day-to-day activities and interactions of an online newsroom, this works alongside mentored iLearn journalism courses.
The trainees receive feedback from an online community of seasoned journalists, other trainees and the site's users.
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Improving journalism standards and providing alternative media in Iran
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