Iranian TV stations
July 19, 2002
I often wonder about the non-existence of a media critic in the immigrant Iranian
society of today despite the seeming openness for criticisms and lack of censorship
practiced in their countries of residence (liberties not granted in Iran).
There are now about six Los Angeles-based 24 hour Iranian satellite TV stations aired
in U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Their names in no particular order
are: Apadana, Jam-e Jam, Pars, NITV, Iranian, and Tapesh.
Despite the prevailing democratic attitude in the host country, we still see all
kinds of slanders, altercations, accusations, and incriminations in and between such
numbered networks. Many of such disagreements are of course attributed to the different
political orientation and engagements of the owners of such networks.
Some are still awaiting Reza Pahlavi's return to the promised homeland and promoting
his idiosyncrasies or were members of the "National Front of Iran" party
pioneered by the late Dr. Shahpoor Bakhtiar, or are just passive spectators of the
cultural amalgam called "Iranian-Americanism".
Amidst all these antagonistic pulls and pushes towards an idealized democracy, Iranian
satellite networks have had a major part and a shared effect on the level of understanding
and perception of the Iranian immigrants and the Iranians in Iran in regards to current
political and societal issues of Iran.
The Iranian satellite programs comprise a valuable case study of the Iranian mentality,
its modes of perception and activism, and its depth of cultural authenticity, which
is displayed through its taste for music, poetry, film, and arts in general.
Since its broadcast, one station has been allegedly linked to Iranian Mafia's pocketbooks
whose heads are Rafsanjani and Khamenei and many of their deploys abroad (gorooh
haaye feshaar) whose names are on the Iranian Regime's current payroll.
Some viewers allege financial sponsoring of this station due to a suspicious selection
of nonpolitical programs such as "video haaye darkhaasti" or "music
video requests", "culinary shows", and "plastic surgery advice"
which promote ignorance and oblivion of the ones already disconnected from their
motherland and act as temporary relief agents for the ones living in the condemned
atmosphere of current Iran.
The Iranian TV run by Hamid Shabkhiz frequently claims to be a nonpolitical or anti-political
participant in the Iranian arena due to its disinterest and neutrality! If you have
ever watched Shabkhiz's TV, you know that you have entered a detached world of desensitizing
entertainment, you have probably watched tons of music videos of Andy and Shahram
K or have listened to medical advice by film directors or concert advertisements
by "politically active" and "anti-regime" singers themselves
who are making tons of money by their Dubai performances.
You have most likely been exposed to a series of objects on sale such as gold jewelry,
silver tea trays, china plates, hair color, shaving cream, and still life paintings.
You have probably been overloaded with the "salaam ahvaal porsi" rendezvous
of Shabkhiz and his callers: "ghorboone shomaa", "nah, ghorboone shomaa",
"khaahesh mikonam", "fadaatoon sham", "ekhtiyaar daarin",
and the list goes on.
There is also subtle flirting exchanged between the young female hosts and the male
callers who are encountered with something unprecedented: an unveiled Iranian woman
with the whole entourage of make up, tacky clothing, and seductive smiles. Amongst
it all, it's very clear that you cannot pronounce any anti-regime opinion or you'll
immediately be cut off as a caller.
The defense of such programs is one does not have to broadcast anything
related to politics, it's true, but how can one remain so ignorant of the fact that
what people of Iran need at this moment is not sedatives but long-term conscious-therapy
potions: an inevitable rude awakening.
How can one forget all the mortality statistics of war, crimes, and punishments of
the current regime by an all day round "ghere kamar" and grotesquely meaningless
music and a bunch of sales people who can barely speak their maternal language and
whose ultimate effort in arranging and producing TV programs is placing a phone on
their coffee table and having a map of Iran behind them?
Alo, befarmaaeed... dorood bar shomaa, az koja zang mizanin? Behbahaan? Behbahaan
kojaast? Tu Iraaneh? Aahaan, videoye Sattar ro mikhaayn? Chashm, hatman baraatoon
mizaareem. Marzieh o Taghi o Hooshang o Marjan baraatoon salaam miresoonim! Tavallode
maadar zanetoon ham mobaarak baasheh...
Another 24 hour TV satellite station is Jam-e Jam, which contains similar programming
such as music videos, medical advice, sports coverage,and excessive advertisements
as its rivals. An extremely sad and pathetic program of Jame-Jam belongs to a gentleman
by the name of "Porchooneh".
Poorchooneh, as the name implies itself, rambles on incessantly about various relationship
issues, covering a range of Oedipus and Electra complexes to profound detachment
and attachment parent-preadolescent issues which are of course conveyed in the most
uneducated and superficial manner stringing on a thread of insults, rude jokes, and
This Porchooneh person is the epitome of male sexism
and misogyny ever observed in a being. Porchooneh indiscriminately makes fun of all
Iranian women alive, and continues his idiocy by claiming that the era of "Chauvinism"
has just begun! Hold on to your seats dear ladies, since Porchooneh vulgarly boasts
about "screwing" girls in the back seat of SUVs and bashes any Iranian
woman who has been involved with a non-Iranian man, as if it's an eternal sin.
As you may perhaps deduce, Porchooneh may be forgiven for the lack of better understanding
of human relations, but the audacity of the producers of the show seems to be strikingly
unique and unreasonably abrasive.
Another interesting TV station is Tapesh, which belongs to Alireza Amirghasemi and
his friends. Amirghasemi's seemingly jocund smile is not exactly charitable and heart-warming,
but a businessman's grin at achieving lots of economic prosperity without owning
the least bit of talent or intellect.
Aside from the redundant conversations with callers via telephone and naming such
spontaneous and unpredictable exchanges "TV programming", there's an interesting
program named "beneath the city's mustache" or "zire sebile shahr"
run by three to four women in their 30's.
These women, supposedly being representatives of a majority have a variety of simplistic
and superficial conversations ranging from hair color to hosiery to waxing their
bodies or simply conforming 100% of the time to American societal standard (imposed)
The most prominent guests of this program are hair stylists, make up artists, or
shallow psychotherapists who watch their own re-runs at night and feel particularly
"convincing". It's nice to divert from seriousness once in a while, but
a constant omission of meaningful content all together is not a diversion but a tragedy
in Iranian Media.
The other two Satellite TV stations named NITV and Pars are a bit more discreet and
professional about what they actually feed their viewers. Although Pars TV is basically
being run by one man only, "Mohandes Shajareh", its trying to practice
some democratic principles. Though it has been said that Mr. Shajareh sometimes has
the habit of cutting your responses off air if they don't correlate with his own
perspective on current politics. Then, the very same station will apologetically
claim in a few minutes that there have been some technical difficulties causing the
But there are at least moments of contemplation when encountering political/social
round tables with guests varying in their background and stance. NITV seems to be
the most committed of all TV satellite stations for Iranians. Their programs are
rather well organized and substantial; there are some seasoned media correspondents
and reporters who discuss issues of quality and concern.
However, there is no intention to admire NITV here and
disparage all other Iranian 24 hour TV stations. The intention is to demonstrate
how a societal lack of inspiration for quality rather than quantity has caused such
poor cultural interactions and alienating personal relations with our own heritage.
There are so many vital and profound dialogues that we could have with each other
instead of concentrating on alleviating our historical pain and agony by self-medication
and artificial healing. Though many Iranians may feel that the presence of such media
is far better than its absence, in the long run this fundamental question rises:
Is an overdose of illusion grander than a fragment of truth?