Long before the June 2009 Selection, at the time when reformist papers were being shut down faster than you can say “Khamenei” one after the other, there was always a discussion amongst reformist ranks of the need for the opposition to have its own indepedent TV channel and its own media outlet far from the reach of the hardliners. Karoubi often spoke about setting up an independent satellite channel.
The problem of course has always been that this “opposition” is so broadly defined that getting a group together has never materalized.
The momentum built after the June 2009 Selection however, gave that cause new impetus and new purpose. Why let the BBC and the VOA become our mouthpiece? many wondered. It’s time to have a voice of our own.
Now, two different groups have announced that they will be launching TV channels.
One group has set up a foundation called “Bonyad-e Neda” (The Neda Foundation) and the heads include academic Ramin Jahanbegloo, cartoonist Nik Ahangh Kowsar, journalist Masih Alinejad, writer Shahrnoush Parispour and activist and lawyer Mehranghiz Kar, among others. The channel is called Iran Neda.
The other group is those at JARAS (Rah-e Sabz) which include Mohsen Kadivar, Abdolali Bazargan, Fatemeh Haghighatjou and Mohajerani. Their channel is going to be called RASA (The Green Path of Hope).
Funding sources for neither network has been announced so far.
While both groups are compsed of a myriad of different people, if I were to generalize, I would say that the people involved with RASA are more religiously oriented and closer to the reformist political parties in Iran – some, including Mohajerani and Haghighatjou are actual former politicians. They are also probably close to Rafsanjani, who could be a possible source of funding (his son who was been residing in Britian for the last few months has got to keep himself busy with something, right?) Iran Neda on the other hand, has a more artistic/academic and secular orientation.
Both groups have a great wealth of scholarship and knowledge to invest, and while we might each be closer to one group than the other, I am looking forward to seeing these projects develop. I also keep my fingers crossed that they actually do develop – too many projects like this one end up in feuds even before the project itself gets off the ground.
It is also interesting to see how each is marketting itself just from the name and logo: the first group calls itself “Iran Neda” and writes “one medium, a thousand voices”. They have also steered far away from using green. The second calls itself “The green path of hope”, has a green background and a “V” logo and they write at the bottom “the green medium of Iran” clearly marketting themselves as a “green” outlet.