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Iran to vie with West by launching news channel

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s state broadcaster will launch a 24-hour English-language satellite news channel next week to rival dominant Western services, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Tehran-based PRESS TV starts broadcasting from Tehran on Monday staffed by both Iranians and foreigners, and will seek to compete against the likes of CNN and BBC World, Nader Rad, head of live programming, told Reuters.

“The news is mostly covered by the Western media. We would like to have a say in this,” he said.

“They (Western outlets) don’t usually cover the whole story ... The news about Iraq does not cover all perspectives. The news about Palestine and Beirut is also like this,” he said.

Rad said Britons and Americans were among those working for the new channel, some based in Tehran. PRESS TV had journalists in Washington, New York, London, Beirut and Damascus, and was planning to have staff in Baghdad and Cairo, he said.

The PRESS TV Web site (www.presstv.ir) said one of the goals was “to break the global media stranglehold of Western outlets.” It also said the channel wanted to “bridge cultural divisions.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly rails against the West for seeking to impose its policies on the rest of the world. Iran is embroiled in a row with the West which accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

The Iranian channel faces an increasingly crowded field of English-language satellite channels after last year’s launch of Al Jazeera International by the Qatar-based broadcaster and France 24, which promised a “French vision.”

Iran’s state broadcaster already runs the Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam and the Persian-language Jaam-e Jam.

Officially ordinary Iranians cannot see any of these channels at home because satellite dishes are banned. In practice, the ban is only sporadically enforced and such dishes are plainly visible on rooftops in Tehran and elsewhere.

Rad said PRESS TV would carry news bulletins, talk shows and documentaries, some of which would be bought from abroad.

“It is a state-owned channel but it is not managed by the state. It has its own guidelines,” Rad said but would not give further details about editorial policy.

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