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New head of state television could ensure influence for Khamenei’s son

Iranian media are speculating on the imminent appointment of the new head of Iranian state television since May 2021, the date of the end of the five-year term of the current head of the organization, Abdol Ali Aliaskari. He was appointed to this post by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ali Khamenei in May 2016.

As far as the Iranian regime is concerned, state television, officially known as the Broadcasting Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRIB), is the most important part of the overcrowded but controlled media landscape of Iran. Iran.

Why is the IRIB so important?

The reason for the importance of the IRIB is clear, it is accessible to everyone almost for free, as every Iranian household pays a small fee added to their electricity bill to watch the IRIB.

Its news and current affairs programs are strictly controlled by Khamenei’s office, and it has the exclusive right to broadcast in Iran. All other TV shows broadcast in Iran via satellites are officially banned and their viewers can get caught if they are unlucky. The least that can happen to them is the confiscation of their reception equipment as well as the payment of a heavy fine.

Most Iranians, however, can get around the penalty after a good “Iranian chat” with law enforcement officials who might just get something less than the actual fine and turn a blind eye.

A very likely insider candidate

Part of the presidential election and part of the country’s serious involvement in the fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic is what delayed the appointment of the new head of the IRIB. Both obstacles are now more or less overcome, as the Raisi administration is officially in place and the long-awaited vaccination program has accelerated.

What is almost certain about the new leader is that he would have to come from the grassroots of the huge organization that runs more than 50 TV channels and as many, if not more, radio stations that target audiences at inside and outside Iran. The reason to prefer an insider is that firstly, it is a highly specialized business to run, and secondly, IRIB staff have shown over the years that they can hardly work with a foreigner. .

Peyman Jebelli (Jebeli), the most likely candidate for the job, is an insider. Noor News, a website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, also named Jebelli as the most likely candidate. The website said: “Jebelli’s academic background, practical experience and service in various positions at all levels within IRIB as well as his role in promoting the quality of programming at IRIB, make him the ideal candidate. “

Links to the number of Khamenei offices

However, apart from all his professional qualifications, Jebelli, as a long-time chief information officer in various parts of the IRIB, has another advantage. He is close to Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba, who is said to be preparing to become the country’s next supreme ruler.

Besides comments on social media from knowledgeable Iranian journalists about Jebelli’s closeness to Mojtaba Khamenei, there is also the case of his former boss Mohammad Sarafraz who was fired in 2014 under pressure from the IRGC and Mojataba, while Jebelli maintained his post and advanced in his career.

Jebelli’s last position at IRIB was that of Director of External Services. It is a part of the IRIB that is closely linked to the security organization and to the hard core of pro-Khamenei politicians who control Iran’s foreign policy outside of the Foreign Ministry. Jebelli was able to listen to them while managing the flagship channels of external services, Press TV (in English), Al-Alam (in Arabic) and Hispan TV (in Spanish).

The worldview presented by the three international channels is aligned with the uncompromising views of Khamenei and the IRGC Quds Force.

According to the Saba news agency which covers cultural developments, there are at least two other candidates within the IRIB for the top post: the dean of the IRIB college, Shahab Esfandiary, an aspiring director trained in the UK, and Mostafa Mohammadi who is also linked to Khamenei’s office. . But none are as closely tied to the centers of power as Jebelli.

The orientation of the main candidate

Born in 1966 in Tehran, Jebelli holds a master’s degree in Islamic knowledge and propaganda from Imam Sadeq University, the famous executive creation institute of the Islamic Republic, and a doctorate. in Culture and Communication from the same university. After serving for many years as editor and news director on various channels, he became the organization’s director of external services in 2016. It is well known in Iranian cultural circles that news from the IRIB are managed directly from Khamenei’s office rather than from his headquarters.

Jebelli has been a defender of Khamenei’s theory of the Western cultural attack on Iran and his paranoid ideas about a media war raging around the world specifically targeting the Islamic Republic and its “values”.

With over 18,000 official employees and many more working with it as entrepreneurs, IRIB is a huge organization with buildings all over Iran as well as its gigantic Jaame-Jam HQ. But the bulky organization is so inefficient that it has to outsource almost every program, other than news and current affairs, which ends up requiring constant vigilance, review and monitoring.


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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.