Iran General NewsIran adds to limits on local media

Iran adds to limits on local media

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ImageWall Street Journal: An Iranian regulatory agency announced a new set of guidelines Tuesday that it says are designed to ensure "objectivity" in Iran's domestic media.

The Wall Street Journal

By ROSHANAK TAGHAVI

ImageDUBAI — An Iranian regulatory agency announced a new set of guidelines Tuesday that it says are designed to ensure "objectivity" in Iran's domestic media.

The move appears to be the latest in a series of measures aimed at reining in the local and international press, after contested June 12 presidential elections and the sometimes-violent clashes between demonstrators and authorities that followed.

In the aftermath of the vote and amid massive protests, Iran clamped down on international and domestic journalists, refusing to extend visas and eventually forbidding correspondents from attending unapproved gatherings or news conferences. Regime officials also rounded up scores of local journalists, and have accused the foreign media of inciting violence or working as agents of foreign governments during the unrest.

Forty-one journalists and bloggers are being held by authorities in the Islamic Republic, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Iran expelled the British Broadcasting Corp.'s correspondent in Tehran, Jon Leyne, and has held Iranian-Canadian reporter Maziar Bahari, who has reported for Newsweek, in detention since mid-June.

Iran's State Inspectorate Organization, a sort of superregulatory agency that supervises a wide range of government administrations, said the guidelines will ensure that any criticism communicated through state media is "constructive," "nonjudgmental" and doesn't "stray from objectivity," Iran's state-controlled English-language news site Press TV quoted SIO chief Mostafa Pourmohammadi as saying.

He didn't give details of the new rules, and it wasn't clear which outlets are being specifically targeted — the government-controlled media or the heavily monitored independent press. It is also unclear how much clout the agency has in pursuing violations or referring them to authorities for enforcement.

Still, the public decree appeared to ratchet up pressure on journalists inside the country. Press TV said only that the new guidelines came after "provocative, insulting, derogatory and defamatory" reports in the run-up to the June 12 vote and in its immediate aftermath.

Election officials declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner, triggering weeks of widespread protests. Authorities cracked down hard in sometimes-bloody street melees. Government officials say as many as 20 people died in the violence, though independent groups put the number much higher.

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