Rouhani Spars With Iran State TV Delaying Broadcast
By Kambiz Foroohar - Feb 6, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in unprecedented public sparring with state authorities, accused the official television company of trying to keep him off the air by deliberately holding up his address to the nation.
Rouhani said on Twitter yesterday that the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting head, Ezatollah Zarghami, was obstructing his “discussion with the people.” As his speech was due to air, state TV showed video clips from the Islamic revolution of 1979 -- images of soldiers clashing with fist-pumping demonstrators, against a soundtrack of revolutionary slogans. Iranians mark the anniversary of the revolution on Feb. 11.
Rouhani has clashed with conservatives in Iran who have opposed diplomatic initiatives such as the phone conversation with President Barack Obama that ended a three-decade taboo, and the nuclear accord reached with world powers in Geneva in November. Zarghami reports to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the top decision-maker in the Islamic Republic.
Scrolling banners on the TV screen attributed the delay to technical problems. Local media, including the state-run Iranian Students News Agency, gave other, conflicting accounts, including disputes over the choice of a presenter and which journalists would put questions to Rouhani.
The president referred several times to the spat once the program eventually went on air about an hour late. “We are a bit late, and the viewers might be tired,” he said in his introductory remarks.