Iran’s Culture Minister has announced that BBC Persian will not be granted a license to operate in Iran.
“We won’t give BBC Persian a licence to work in Iran,” Ali Jannati, the head of Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance told Mehr News on August 15.
The announcement followed speculation that Iran might allow the online news outlet to set up a bureau in Tehran as part of improved relations between Iran and the UK, or at least grant permission for BBC Persian to report from inside Iran. The UK reopened its embassy in Iran in August 2015 after nearly four years.
The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology filters BBC Persian in an attempt to block Iranians from accessing its content. But Iranians continue to access the website using proxy servers and other circumvention tools. In September 2015, there were reports that Iranians in some parts of the country could access BBC Persian content. Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, head of Iran’s Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content, responded that any access was a “technical glitch” and that the filter on BBC Persian had not been lifted.
Jannati said BBC World had also asked the ministry for a permit to set up an office in Tehran, but that the ministry had not come to decision. “The request will be considered and it might happen,” he said, and empahsized that BBC World coverage was “totally different” from BBC Persian. “They cover the Iran’s stories different from the BBC Persian team”. It was not clear whether Jannati was referring to the World Service or BBC News.
Following the signing of the nuclear deal in July 2015, Iran granted the BBC’s Kim Ghattas a one-week press visa.