Iran’s Media Market: Reporting From Within

At the beginning of 2016, the international community implemented a landmark deal with Iran. This, along with a reformist government in Tehran, has turned the country into one of the most interesting markets for business and news coverage.

To learn what that means for media both within and outside of Iran, we spoke with HackPack member Maral Gholampour, founder of Media Consultants Bureau — the first international and independent media Agency in Iran assisting media outlets, businesses, and individuals expand their activities from and to the Iranian market. These services include content production, media access and media publicity, as well as data collection using investigative journalism techniques.

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Maral Gholampour, founder of Media Consultants Bureau, in her office

How much has the political situation changed? Does it affect you?

Recent international developments have certainly provided solid grounds for improvements, and the government is quite sympathetic towards start-ups in various fields including media. Currently, we are mainly providing coverage from outside the country for domestic publications, however, we are in the process of making arrangements for facilitating a two way flow of information through MCB Covering stories inside Iran to publish outside the country can sometimes be politically charged.

Even in Iran, when we contact media outlets and offer our assistance to produce stories from abroad, many have doubts as to whether it is legal or politically safe.

But I have witnessed a great deal of enthusiasm in accessing such services among media managers and media owners.

Why would they call it illegal or not politically safe?

Previously, if they wanted to attain information or stories from a foreign country, it was only possible through a limited number of state-run channels such as Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and Press TV. New possibilities can sometimes be overwhelming when first defined within an established structure.

How do Iranian publications provide international coverage?

Currently, there are a few Iranian media organizations and news agencies with correspondents around the globe, and all of them are state owned. Sometimes they cut coverage abroad to diminish costs. Besides that, they have a limited number of international contributors with a more global perspective.

For news portals and newspapers, it is very difficult and costly to cover events outside of Iran, so they resort to translating from international media outlets most of the time, such as Al Jazeera or BBC.

What’s the rest of the media industry like in Iran?

It is highly politicized, monopolized and has a lot of sensitivities and complications. It takes a full understanding of recent history, international affairs, the political structure and unresolved issues between Iran and the West to completely realize how things are within media industry, why they are the way they are, and how to survive and play a role in this market.

In terms of structure and format, however, Iran has a diverse and thriving media industry both in print, online/multimedia, and social networks. There are an overwhelming number of specialized magazines from oil and gas, medical, mining, to fashion, sports, and music. They are very advertisement oriented and gradually are moving online. Besides that, many online TV and multimedia outlets are flourishing.

Are any new media instruments being used?

Absolutely! Iranians have embraced Instagram and Telegram, and these two applications are the most influential in Iran.

Many Iranian news and media outlets don’t have a website but almost every one of them have active Telegram channels with thousands of followers and millions of subscribers to their Instagram pages!

Where do you see Iran media in 5 years?

Iran is moving to integrate into international markets; and trade and development are on the agenda in the country in the coming years. This requires improvement of media and communications infrastructures and establishing media channels to facilitate the development process. I think many Iranian media have the potential to go global. There is a great force within the media industry in Iran and I hope that this translates into a greater presence on international media scene and impact on an international level.

Connect with Maral today through HackPack and expand your opportunities!

Maral holds 3 degrees in media and communications from Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran, a MA in international journalism from City University, London and is Ph.D. candidate at Goldsmiths University, London.

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