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IRAN, TURKEY: European broadcaster to launch Persian, Turkish news channels

January 19, 2010 |  9:47 am

Picture 11Following in the footsteps of the BBC's Persian-language service, another Europe-based news channel is now planning to start broadcasting news in Persian to reach out to Iranian and Afghan viewers.

The president of the popular European multilingual news channel Euronews told The Times that his station is hoping to launch its Persian-language news channel later this year.

Euronews president Philippe Cayla said it was part of the station's efforts to reach out to the East and that the project has been in the pipeline for some time. The announcement came recently after Euronews won a tender organized by the European Commission for a 24-hour Persian-language news channel.

The station is known for its distinctive "No Comment" feature (as shown above in a video from June). Every day during peak news hours, it airs a minute or two of raw video footage from around the world to let viewers make up their own opinion on world events.

"We ... think that sometimes images need no explanation or commentary, which is why we created No Comment and now No Comment TV: to show the world from a different angle," says a statement on No Comment TV's YouTube channel.

Euronews already broadcasts in Arabic and Russian. As part of its plans reach out toward the East, it's also launching a Turkish-language news channel, which is scheduled to go on air at the end of the month. Cayla hopes the Persian-language news service will be ready to debut in mid-October.

He said that Euronews is looking to hire 30 people for its Persian news service and that recruitment ads for journalists will soon be posted on Euronews' website. The channel will be based in Lyon, France, where the station is headquartered.

Euronews was founded in 1993 and beams out into hundreds of millions of households worldwide.

It is not clear what the Iranian authorities think about Euronews' plans to start a Persian-language news outlet. Cayla said there had been "no reactions" from them so far.

Meanwhile, he emphasized Euronews' commitment to being a balanced and informative news channel. Euronews, he said, is first and and foremost "an information channel."

Other Persian-language news channels have previously experienced extensive interference in their broadcasts into Iran. 

The BBC, for example, has consistently seen its Persian channel jammed from inside Iran by unknown sources. 

The latest interference occurred in late December when the London-based station began its extended coverage of the death of Iran's leading reformist cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. 

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Video: A segment from Euronews' "No Comment" feature aired last June.