Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is the largest media company in Iran with dozens of media operators in broadcasting, online and print. It operated as the National Iranian Radio and Television until the Iranian revolution of 1979. IRIB is the sole broadcaster allowed to air in Iran. IRIB runs television channels targeting the Iranian population in Iran, a raft of international news channels, and a network of regional television channels covering all the regions of Iran.

IRIB’s international television channels include: Press TV, a news and documentary television channel that broadcasts in English and French; Al-Alam, an Arabic news channel that also operates a website known as Alalam News; Sahar TV, part of Sahar Universal Network, which is a division of IRIB, that broadcasts Azeri, Balkan, Kurdish and Urdu channels; Al Kawthar, a channel in Arabic that airs religious and cultural programs mostly for audiences in the MENA region; HispanTV, a Spanish language channel targeting countries that speak Spanish, mostly in South America; Jam Jam World Network, a television channel airing programs mostly targeted to Iranians who live abroad.

IRIB also runs a vast network of radio channels that serve the Iranian audiences in Iran, and IRIB World Service, the official international broadcast operation of the Iranian government that airs programs in 32 languages. IRIB also runs the Persian-language newspaper Jam-e Jam. According to intel from our local experts, IRIB has a staff of 46,000.

Media assets

Television: NationalIRIB TV: TV1, TV2, TV3, TV4, TV5, Amoozesh, Quran TV, Namayesh TV, TV Nasim, Ofogh TV, Salamat TV, Nahal TV, DocTV, Varzesh TV, Pooya TV, Tamasha TV, Omid TV, Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN); InternationalPress TV; Al-Alam, Sahar TV, Al Kawthar, Hispan TV, Jam Jam World, iFilm, Al-Quds TV; Regional-Abadan, East Azerbaijan, Western Azerbaijan, Ardabil. Esfahan, Alborz, Ilam, Bushehr, Southern Korasan, Khorasan Razavi, North Korasan, Persian Gulf, Khuzestan

Radio: National– Tehran Radio, Radio Recitation, Payam, Iran Radio Network, Economics Radio Network, Radio Ava, Goftu Radio Network, Quran Radio Network, Farhang Radio, Saba Radio, Health Radio, Young Radio, Sports Radio, Show Radio, Education Radio; International- Pars Today

Print: Jam-e Jam

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

As a corporation that holds a monopoly of the domestic radio and television services in Iran, IRIB is closely controlled by the government. The company is fully state owned and members of its governing structures are appointed by state authorities. The head of the company is appointed directly by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The organization has a Supervisory Board whose members are representatives of the executive, legislative and judiciary bodies, according to Iran’s Constitution. In reality, however, all power rests with IRIB’s head who is a close ally of the Ayatollah, according to our local experts. In October 2021, as part of a process of consolidation of state media, Payman Jebelli was appointed head of IRIB. Jebelli is known as having close links with Khamenei’s office and key hardliners.

Source of funding and budget

IRIB is funded through a combination of state subsidies and revenues from advertising sales. Although advertising revenues officially account for roughly 50% of the total budget of the station, a significant part of those revenues come from state-run companies. Moreover, the station is supposed to hand over all the ad revenues to the state authorities. According to experts in the country and various media reports, the company operates with a yearly budget close to US$ 1bn. According to more recent data, IRIB has annual ad revenues worth US$ 560m, much of it from state-run companies. On top of that, in 2022, it received US$ 200m from the state budget, a sum that is equal to the total of all salaries of Iran’s government employees. Other government agencies also awarded state funds to the broadcaster’s 2022 budget. In 2023, the broadcaster received some US$ 158m in government funding.

Editorial independence

IRIB was designed as a state media company with a mission to promote the image and interests of the political regime in Iran. The content produced by all its media outlets is closely monitored. IRIB’s journalists are regularly instructed what topics to cover and how to cover them, according to experts in the country. IRIB is often referred to as a propaganda channel, “infamous for its explicit censorship of critical debate.” “Its entertainment channels also heavily edit foreign movies and television series to ensure “immorality” is not screened to the public,” according to a recent article in Asia Times.

IRIB has a charter that puts forward key principles that should guide the company’s editorial coverage. One of them is that IRIB should “welcome criticism.” However, the document doesn’t qualify as a statute that guarantees the outlet’s editorial independence. All other principles mentioned in the document require IRIB to promote the vision of the Supreme Leader and to ensure “the supremacy of Islam” in all of its programs.

No independent assessment/oversight mechanism that would validate the editorial independence of IRIB has been identified.

August 2023