BBC Persian audience doubles to 6m

Corporation hails success of Farsi-language service despite jamming by Iran and intimidation of relatives of staff

The BBC has revealed that its Persian TV service has managed to almost double its audience in two years to 6 million, despite a campaign by the Iranian government to smear the Farsi-language service.

On Wednesday the BBC published new figures which it said showed that viewing of Persian TV has soared by 94% from 3.1 million in 2009 to 6 million at the end of last year.

The channel has repeatedly been jammed since launching in 2009, while relatives of BBC staff in London have been detained and threatened and presenters have been targeted by malicious rumours.

Earlier this month the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, was prompted to post a blog on the BBC website complaining about the “disturbing new tactics”.

The BBC said that independent research shows that the overall weekly audience for the BBC’s international news services in Iran – including TV and radio services – has risen by 85% between from 3.9 million in 2009 to 7.2 million in 2011.

“These figures are a tremendous tribute to the courage and dedication of BBC Persian journalists in the face of appalling bullying and intimidation by the Iranian authorities,” said the BBC director of global news, Peter Horrocks.

The BBC reckons that more than one in 10 Iranians watch BBC Persian TV each week, or 28% of satellite households.

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from Mark Sweney


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