AP: The BBC said Thursday it will launch a Persian-language TV channel next week that can be seen in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and elsewhere, despite Iranian claims that it will be used to recruit spies.
The Associated Press
By MEERA SELVA
LONDON (AP) — The BBC said Thursday it will launch a Persian-language TV channel next week that can be seen in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and elsewhere, despite Iranian claims that it will be used to recruit spies.
BBC Persian TV, to start up on Wednesday, will broadcast news and programs on arts and sports available via cable, satellite and internet providers.
Iran's official news agency IRNA accused the British broadcaster a month ago of trying to recruit Iranians for "espionage and psychological warfare."
BBC spokesman Mike Gardner said the British Broadcasting Corp.'s only goal is to report on world events in an impartial and editorially independent manner.
But he conceded that his company has a complex relationship with the Iranian authorities.
"We request permission to have accreditation for our BBC Persian correspondents. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don't. We continue to seek interviews with officials at all levels of government. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don't," Gardner said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
BBC Persian TV will be the broadcaster's second foreign-language TV channel. It launched BBC Arabic last year.
But the company has run a Persian-language radio service since 1940, and it operates a Persian-language news site online.
Gardner said the BBC had been refused permission to broadcast on Iran's main networks, and that its online service is partially blocked within the country.
The broadcaster has a bureau in Tehran for its English-language service but has not been allowed to open a bureau for its Persian-language service.
BBC Persian TV will be broadcast from London every day, from 1330 to 2130 GMT.
In addition to Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, it will be received Britain, Dubai and most other countries in the Persian Gulf through Hotbird and Telstar satellite and cable services.