By Potkin Azarmehr
It would have come as a surprise to many in the UK when last weekend’s edition of the Sunday Times revealed that Iran’s largest media corporation, The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), has been operating from a former car factory in Acton, West London.
Unlike Press TV, the English speaking arm of IRIB, which attracted a lot of publicity after welcoming several UK politicians and celebrities as hosts of its TV shows, the corporation’s central outlet in the UK has continued a low-key operation for more than 10 years. Whilst the Iranian government maintains that the IRIB and its outlets are independent of the state, the head of the broadcasting conglomerate is directly appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
As the Sunday Times article correctly points out, the London based outlet’s main task is to pick up on negative news in Britain and prepare an anti-British disinformation package made up of twisted events for propaganda broadcasts in Iran.
In line with this policy, the IRIB’s London based outlet routinely features controversial news items in order to emphasise temporary unrest and divisions in the UK, like the story of Mark Duggan, who was shot by British police in 2011.
Reporting on this story, the channel’s presenter summed up events by saying, “what is clear, is that until the injustice, which has rooted itself within the depths of the English society is tackled, including the unjust distribution of wealth, and until unemployment and racism is eradicated in the UK, the English people’s protests could ignite at any moment like the fire from under the ashes.”
These IRIB London based reports are then picked up by the rest of Iran’s media and headlines like the ones below, follow:
“The Arrest of Protesters Continues.”
“English Youth: ‘We Don’t Want the Monarchy, We Are Standing Until the End. “
Through its reports produced in London, Iran’s state TV, which is ultimately what it is, wants its viewers to believe that England is the real violator of human rights and Iran’s Islamic Republic in comparison is a beacon of justice and a source of compassion to its own citizens. Though most Iranian viewers see through the channel’s attempts at disinformation, negative press has an enduring quality, and die-hard supporters of the Islamic Republic watching these reports become convinced over time that they have the fairer system of governance in Iran.
There is still more room for investigation over and above what was printed in the last edition of the Sunday Times on IRIB’s London offices. Many of the corporation’s employees and their families have managed to obtain UK citizenship and have remained here in the UK, making full use of all the privileges and services provided for them. Ironically, despite the “brutality” they continuously point to in the UK, they still prefer to live and remain here, rather than return to Iran.