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Iran’s debt-ridden international broadcasters face closure

Iran’s state-funded international TV channels, including Press TV, could soon be taken off the air due to accumulated debt amid the country’s cash reserve crisis.
A screen grab from video footage from Iran's state-run English language Press TV showing aerial view of warships released by revolutionary guards, broadcasted on July 19, 2019. Press TV/Reuters TV via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. IRAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN IRAN. Broadcasters: NO USE IRAN. NO USE BBC PERSIAN. NO USE MANOTO. NO USE VOA PERSIAN Digital: NO USE IRAN. NO USE BBC PERSIAN. NO USE MANOTO. NO USE VOA PERSIAN (RESTRICTION IMPOSED LOCALLY B

Accumulated debt in foreign currency is heralding a grim fate upon a large network of state-funded TV channels Iran has been building over decades to wage what it calls the “soft war” against its western enemies. Among those hardest-hit and facing imminent closure are the international 24-hour English news channel Press TV and its Arabic sister Al-Alam owned by a larger organization known as the Islamic Republic Public of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

The IRIB World Service director Peyman Jebelli told Iranian media outlets that he expects both television stations, which target foreign audiences, “to be taken off the air in the days or weeks to come.” He accused the government of President Hassan Rouhani of failing to grasp the looming “disaster” facing the IRIB’s overseas branch. According to Jebelli, Rouhani’s Planning and Budget Organization has denied the IRIB World Service its share in the state-allocated foreign currency for five months in a row. “Not even a single dollar or euro,” he said, has been provided to help those channels pay their outstanding debts to satellite operators.

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