Talking to the Iranians

This came out yesterday, news that the BBC World Service is to launch a TV news and information service in the Farsi (Persian) language for Iran backed by £15m a year by the government.

At a time when the BBC World Service is being cut, this is quite a splash, and one that was announced by Gordon Brown and followed BBC proposals approved by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (as are all things World Service).

The service will complement the BBC’s existing Persian radio and online services for Iran, will launch early in 2008, and will initially broadcast for eight hours a day, seven days a week.

The money is quite a hefty whack and seems to have gone through without a hitch. The cash comes in addition to BBC World Service’s existing grant-in-aid funding from the government of £245m.

A BBC statement says that “The BBC’s Persian radio and online services are well-respected by Iranians, especially by opinion formers. In Iran we are regarded as the most trusted and objective of all international broadcasters.

“Therefore the BBC proposed to the Foreign Office that we launch a television service in Farsi to complement our existing independent news and information services for Iran on radio and online.

“Like all BBC services, the new television service will be editorially independent of the UK Government.”