Financial woes might force Rasa television, the only satellite station dedicated to covering Iran’s Green Movement, to suspend all its operations as a result of financial woes, the group recently announced.
In late October, the station’s official website posted a note saying that despite the growing number of Rasa viewers both in and out of the country, the channel would probably have to shut down in the near future owing to a lack of financial resources.
“These days, Rasa is not in a good position. The state has blocked all of Rasa’s financial revenues, and with intelligence work, it has identified and terminated [Rasa’s financial supply line]. And since Rasa, by its own decision, does not accept funds from any government, the continuation of its activities are dependent on its ability to resolve this setback.”
The Rasa statement also made an appeal to viewers and donors to help meet the swelling demand for financial aid, while adding that its own staff had already launched efforts to raise funds through various means such as social networks.
Since its launch in August 2010, the core of Rasa’s activities has been focused on the opposition Green Movement’s struggle for human rights and democracy. The channel offers Iranian with news and information they are unlikely to receive from state media or the heavily censored domestic publications. Its launch was intended to break the state’s monopoly over the flow of information in Iran and to reach a wider audience across the country.
Rasa’s own strict protocols prohibit it from receiving funds from states, which some believe is an important reason for its financial shortcomings. The channel, which began its work with the blessing of the Green Movement’s leaders Mahdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, has stressed its position as a financially independent media.
Since the Green Movement’s birth in 2009, the issue of financial assistance has stirred up much debate, with some voice for and other against the notion of foreign assistance.
In a recent interview US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the Obama administration had offered assistance to the Green Movement in 2009, but opposition leaders “cautioned that we would put people’s lives in danger, we would discredit the movement, we would undermine their aspirations.”
“I think if something were to happen again, it would be smart for the Green Movement or some other movement inside Iran to say, ‘We want the voices of the world. We want the support of the world behind us’.”
“I will tell you it was a very tough time for us, because we wanted to be full-hearted in favour of what was going on inside Iran, and we kept being Mousavi, says that that until now, it’s been relying on help from the Iranian people,” she added.
Ardeshir Amir-Arjomand, a top Mousavi advisor rejected the comments saying that “Intervention by foreign powers is not a viable solution for domestic issues and affairs of a sovereign nation.”
Another formidable media force for the Green Movement, the Jaras website, is also struggling with its finances. In a recent statement, the website explained that if it could not raise adequate funds, it would be forced to suspend its operations as of 15 November.
Jaras was initially founded during the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election. Since then, the site has become an important actor in the media sphere, providing news and analyses on the pro-democracy movement in the Iran. In the past two years, websites such as Jaras and the Green Voice of Freedom have come under relentless cyber attacks from the Iranian regime, a very telling testament to the state’s deep sense of unease about the websites’ role as important sources for accurate, fair and balanced reporting.
It is difficult to predict whether Rasa and Jaras will be successful in raising the funds they need to continue their vital work. However, what’s certain is that their shutdown will deliver a heavy blow to Green Movement supporters who rely heavily on the two media for obtaining crucial news and information which is not contaminated with state propaganda.