In order to help you earn more about the MEK, we have created an in-depth series. In this part, we will learn about how the MEK uses TV to spread their message to the Iranian people.
While the MEK must always operate in secret for fear of arrest, torture, and execution, the MEK has managed to keep a large public profile in Iran for many years because of its satellite television channel, Iran National Television (INTV). In Farsi, the channel is called Simay-e Azadi, which translates to the Voice of Freedom.
Ever since the MEK’s INTV was founded in 1996, it has been broadcasting around the clock to the Iranian people and expats across the rest of the world, with the purpose of “[providing] a truthful media outlet to foster a democratic Iran that respects the human rights of all”. This is essential in Iran where the media and the flow of information are highly restricted by the mullahs.
The MEK’s satellite channel is based in London, which is how they avoid prosecution by the mullahs, but the reporters have a large network of contacts inside Iran that gather information about what is going on in the country, specifically things that are censured by the Regime’s media, like the inner workings of the government and anti-regime protests.
The MEK network, which also broadcasts Iranian art, comedy, culture, documentary, literature, history, and music, shows that are not available to Iranians, is watched by 10 million people per day, with its website getting tens of thousands of hits daily.
Even the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) knows how much the MEK channel is watched in Iran, with its leader saying in 2013 that over 42% of Iranians watched satellite TV programs and they spent an average of three hours per day watching foreign broadcasts. He said that the MEK channel “had penetrated a majority of Iranian households”.
INTV, which is volunteer-run and commercial-free, relies a lot on telethons for the money to run it, but the amount generated can be seen as a measure of how popular the MEK is inside and outside Iran. In January 2013, a 50-hour INTV telethon raised $4.1 million. These contributions, encouraged by dozens of European politicians who participated in the event, one dollar to several thousand dollars and were received donors in Iran and 31 other countries, with many Iranians sending anti-regime and pro-MEK messages with their donations.
In our next piece, we will learn how the Regime tries to stop people from viewing MEK TV.