IRAN: Opposition launches new satellite TV channel
Opposition activists linked to Iran's "green movement" have launched a new satellite TV channel, RASA TV, from Belgium as an alternative news source for discontented Iranians at home and abroad.
Ebrahim Nabavi, one of the channel's organizers, is a well-known satirist and former political prisoner currently living in Europe. He told Radio Free Europe that the aim of the channel, which is also available online, is to break the government's monopoly on the flow of information.
"During the last year, Iran's state TV never broadcast any [objective] news about the green movement, and what it did broadcast was lies," Nabavi said. "Censorship and distortion of the news in Iran led us to establish a new media to collect news from inside Iran and then broadcast it back into the country again."
Former presidential candidate and opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi appeared on the channel on Thursday, offering congratulations and support to the new initiative.
"I support [the channel staff] and congratulate them, and I would advise them to proceed with caution and to work within the framework of what they claim as well as a merciful interpretation of Islam," he said, according to a well-known opposition website. "I would like to congratulate RASA TV again, and I am in favor of what is being done.”
The channel is operating on a shoestring budget that only allows for a one-hour news program, but organizers said they are hoping to maintain their independence by relying on donations from individuals rather than foreign governments.
The green movement has lost steam since its height in the months following the disputed presidential election in 2009, but the government forgetting about it just yet.
Thursday saw heavy security patrols in and around Tehran, especially near the home of the besieged Karroubi, leading up to Friday's annual state-sponsored rally in support of the Palestinian cause. The show of force seemed aimed at intimidating opposition activists who might attempt to derail the demonstration by protesting the government.
-- Meris Lutz in Beirut
Photo: A screenshot of opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi on RASA TV. Credit: Meris Lutz