We analyzed in the past few years a number of news media outlets in Iran that seemed to fit our captured model, but we didn’t include them in the State Media Monitor as we lack evidence to prove the state presence. For example, Resalat, a publication of the conservative Resalat Foundation, is known to be a pro-government newspaper, but there is no evidence or indication from our local experts that it is systematically funded by the state, controlled in terms of ownership or editorially censored to justify its inclusion in the the database. Another newspaper in the same situation is Khorshid (which supported former President Ahmadinejad);
Second, there are numerous media outlets that have a connection with the Revolutionary Guards (either through their businesses or directly to the organization). We have not profiled them under the Iran country folder, yet, as they fir our captured private media model, we included them in the database (see MENA in the Global List).
During the past decade or so, we have included in our overall sample of news outlets media companies that we believe are controlled by the state. But information about these outlets is unavailable even to our local experts. Because we lack such data, but also because these media have little influence and popularity compared to other media, we didn’t include them in our state-administered database, but we continue collecting data about them. They include Iran Book News Agency, Iranian Agriculture News Agency, Iranian Labor News Agency (owned by the government-supported trade union), Iran Metropolises News Agency (IMNA), Icana News Agency and Pupils Association News Agency (PANA).
We have also analyzed in the past few years a number of news websites controlled by state authorities in Iran that have grown to prominence, but that are not media outlets per se. Hence, we didn’t include them in our State Media Monitor database. They include Sepah News (which is the website of the IRGC) or Basij News (the website of the Iranian paramilitary militia Basij).
It is believed that the Iranian government, through the country’s state media, regularly launches many more channels of communication online to spread propaganda about the Iranian regime. Some of them are shut down after a while as social media companies find their pages and block them for inauthentic behavior.
Local experts in Iran consulted for this report say that the Iranian government has been working for more than a decade on a strategy aimed at expanding its media operations abroad. Part of this strategy was the creation of news portals that target different countries, particularly the United States. Last year, one of those front companies for propaganda, Bayan Gostar, was identified by the American authorities. In 2018, Reuters identified a spate of news portals, many of which were managed by the International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM). We haven’t included these websites in our State Media Monitor database as many of them disappeared after social media companies removed the accounts. On the other hand, in 2021, the Iranian government announced a series of controversial plans for the country’s media. On the one hand, it seems that the government is planning to consolidate the country’s media into a more centralized entity that would be easier to control. Part of this strategy was the appointment at the helm of a few key state media of people very close to the Supreme Leader in the fall of 2021. On the other hand, the Iranian government announced in February 2022 that it was going to shut down a raft of foreign offices serving the country’s state media, a result, experts say, of the profound economic crisis the Iranian government has been experiencing in the past year. While foreign desks are shut down, the government has stepped up spending for the local operations of state media, especially the main state broadcaster IRIB, a decision that apparently stirred criticism among both journalists and public servants. These trends are expected to have significant repercussions on the overall governance of the Iranian state media in the coming years.