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Will Iranians watch Saudi-financed Persian TV?

Hoping to reach an Iranian audience, Saudi Arabia is moving to focus more on Persian-language media, but the kingdom has little advantage in an already saturated market.
A Saudi man watches the most popular Saudi TV series during the holy fasting month of Ramadan "Tash Ma Tash" in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on August 22, 2010. Turning the tables on conservative Islamic beliefs, "Tash ma Tash" has again sparked huge laughs and huge controversy this month by depicting a Muslim woman not just married to four husbands, but also wanting to divorce one of them in order to marry someone else. AFP PHOTO/AMER HILABI (Photo credit should read AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Calls for a stepped up media campaign against Iran have become more common in the Arab press in the past few months. Last week, Saudi outlet Al-Watan published a column by its Iran expert Muhammad Al-Sulami, who urged more active campaigning against the Islamic Republic in the Arab media while lamenting the current media strategies of Persian Gulf states. In October, the London-based online newspaper Elaph, which is owned by an influential Saudi businessman, called on Arab states to finance Persian-language TV channels as a potential response to what it called “Iran’s arrogant behavior” toward Arab countries.

“Even if [those TV channels] focus just on the domestic problems of Iran, which are many, the impact on the political behavior of Iran would be clear,” the Elaph article argues. In another instance, Saudi analyst Mubarak Aldujain argued in a comment to Al-Watan that TV broadcasts are not enough and need to be supported by an extensive social media campaign, especially through Twitter, as “marketing windows” for such broadcasts.

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