Iran to step up media control ahead of presidential race, says official

‘Press must exercie self-control’: Culture Ministry

The Iranian government will intensify its supervision over the press in the lead up to the presidential election in June, a Culture Ministry official said on Friday.

In an interview with the semi-official Fars news agency, Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance for Press and Information, Mohammad-Jafar Mohammadzadeh, called on the country’s press to exercise “self-control” ahead of the June vote.

“During the next two months, the supervisions carried out by [my] department will increase. But we hope that members of the press themselves also exercise self-control and publish the news in a responsible manner,” Mohammadzadeh told Fars.

Mohammad-Jafar Mohammadzadeh [Image via IRNA]

On Thursday, opposition website Kaleme reported that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence had recently summoned the managing editors of the country’s nationwide publications to inform them of the “red lines” of election coverage.

According to Kaleme, during the meeting, the editors were briefed by an individual who presented himself as an Intelligence Ministry deputy and warned that any “disparagement” in the run-up to the presidential race would be “dealt with” severely. The official reportedly said that the “red lines” were based on positions endorsed by Khamenei.

Nevertheless, the editors were also told that there were no limitations on criticisms targeting the embattled head of government Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Kaleme also claims that the Revolutionary Guards will be the body in charge of overseeing the 14 June election, and not the Interior Ministry.

The website of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently released a list of twenty “recommendations” to the media regarding their conduct ahead of election day. Khamenei called on the media to steer clear of “preoccupying the population with trivial issues” and fuelling a sense of “despair” towards the elections.

“Not all news deserves to be reported,” he said, adding that “demagoguery” in the media coverage of the elections was “forbidden.”

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