Hojatoleslam Zaeri’s controversial remarks about IRIB’s programs


[Mohammad Reza Zaeri, a cleric, is criticizing the state-run TV, IRIB, for not having a real understanding of issues that exist in the Iranian society.]

 Zaeri says: Once a TV producer told me very honestly and openly that ‘I have a car, a house, a cellphone.’ He said, ‘I don’t want to lose them.’ Our issue is not people’s beliefs, our issue is not changing people’s beliefs. Our issue is holding to our own positions. And when the group manager is worried about his car, his mobile, and his house, then truly one cannot talk about the revolution.

He points out to mentalities at the time of revolution: If in 1979, Imam [Khomeini], leaders of the revolution, and elders of the countries had been worried about SAVAK raiding their houses and had wanted not to go to prison, then there would have been no Islamic Revolution.

He talks of the gap between the TV audience and the officials: This fear and trembling and being cautious is partly because our officials do not understand the change in their audience’s atmosphere. It means that the audience is living in completely different world, and our officials are living in the different world of their own limited meetings. And day by day this gap is widening. If in 1980 or 1985, this gap was small, and if in 1991 or 1996, this gap was fixable, today this gap is so wide that it is not even imaginable. But the person who is broadcast supervisor, is the broadcast manager, is the group manager, or is the network manager, he too is under the pressure by lobbies, currents and individuals which is not compatible with outside world.

Zaeri brings about some real issues in society that are banned from TV programs: Our audience is increasingly consuming alcoholic drinks. But still one cannot read Hadiths or Quranic verses about alcoholic drinks on our TV. This is a fact. If I want to talk about alcoholic drinks in a live TV program, I should talk as if these damned nonbeliever Americans consume alcoholic drinks. May God curse them. They do a bad thing. The audience will never feel that his problems are answered.

He continues: Ethical issues and moral corruption is day by day increasing in the society. But still I cannot talk about girlfriend and boyfriend on TV. If I say this word, the broadcast supervisor will stop the program. Everyday social network and Internet is more and more used. But if on the TV…. Well this happened to me. One of the problems on the TV program called “Bright Nights” that was broadcast in the holy month of Ramadan was that I used the word Facebook. As if no such thing exists in the world outside! With this gap between national media [IRIB] and public audience, naturally no relationship or consolidation will be created between the audience and the media.