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article imageIran bans ‘love triangles’ and ‘half-naked men’ on TV Special

By Sarah Lucas     Sep 13, 2011 in World
The Iranian government has banned state television from featuring “tempting love triangles” and “half-naked men”, according to state-run Fars news.
Programming directors have also been told to “strictly avoid” scenes featuring the “unnecessary mingling” of men and women in scenes including weddings, family parties, work situations and celebrations.
Speech in the Islamic Republic is heavily regulated. The limits to freedom of expression extend over a broad range of topics, including religion, immorality, social harmony and politics.
State control over television is well established. By law all channels are owned by the state and the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcaster, the giant corporation in control of television and radio, is selected by the supreme leader.
Iran TV, the state-controlled monopoly provider, dedicates most its schedule to religious shows and announcements from the government.
One young blogger from Tehran, who has written in English since his Persian blog was filtered, thinks the bans on love triangles and half-naked men will have no impact on content. “Who does this affect? Swimmers? I have never seen much flesh in TV except during sports.”
He interprets the new bans rather as a reassertion by religious conservatives. “I see this as recapturing the TV by mullas and hardliners.”
Iranian society is characterized by conflict between conservative and modernizing forces. Those in favor of greater freedom of expression, led by Rahim Mashaei, have led the campaign for soap operas and artistic shows to be allowed on television.
While television has been successfully censored, it is the Internet which now causes the greatest concern to hardliners.
The Internet initially offered a relatively unfettered medium for communication in Iran, allowing independent media and opposition voices to flourish. Iran’s blogosphere has been heralded as one of the largest and most active in the world, with an estimated 60,000 blogs representing independent voices.
But the state took strong measures to gain control over the Internet. The Internet infrastructure was designed around a government-managed gateway. Commercial ISPs in Iran that offer Internet connectivity to the public are required to connect via the state-controlled Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI). This creates a central point that facilitates the implementation of Internet filtering and monitoring.
Some Iranians have sought to overcome this by using satellite connection, but in August the head of the police declared the “right to confiscate the satellite receivers and dishes without a permission from the owner.”
According to the same blogger, in some cases this has involved the police entering homes, or even rappelling up walls to confiscate dishes (see photo above).
The government also uses more traditional methods of control. Reporters Without Borders, which measures press freedom, calls Iran “the Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists and bloggers”. Dozens of netizens have been arrested already this September.
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