Iranian Internet use at an “all-time high”
The SAT-7 PARS channel broadcasts 20 hours a day in Farsi. A Dari program, Secret of Life (Raze Zendeghi), was recently added for Afghan viewers. Dari is a dialect of Farsi spoken by many Afghans, some of whom live in Iran. As production time for the channel increases, and the studio is refurbished for high-tech entertainment, we are looking ahead to analyze the access people in Iran will have to SAT-7 PARS in the future. What is the current level of media use in Iran, and does it bode well for the future?
To find out, we consulted the work of trusted authorities on statistics—the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup. Survey research done by the BBG and Gallup during 2012 concludes that Internet use in Iran is at an “all-time high.” Additionally, “satellite television remains the medium of choice for reaching Iranians from outside of the country.” This includes a 30% increase in Internet use and a 10% increase in satellite ownership since 2008. This may not necessarily mean that 10% more people own satellites, but rather that more people are willing to admit that they own one. Satellite ownership is still illegal in Iran. Authorities have gone from house to house and destroyed the dishes, but new satellite dishes often appear again on the same rooftops.
About a quarter of the Iranian population owns a satellite dish, and half have access to a satellite dish. Satellite television is still the optimal means for reaching Iranians due to its ubiquity, the inability to censor it, and the fact that people who are illiterate can watch and understand. Although about 39% of Iranians are using the Internet, the SAT-7 PARS website has been firewalled a number of times. Even when the website is accessible, those who are illiterate or too poor to access a computer are marginalized.
Moving forward, SAT-7 PARS continues to make technological advancements. The team is ramping up the production quality of television programs on SAT-7 PARS, updating the channel website, and using a variety of social media to keep in touch with viewers. While optimistic about the television programs and Audience Relations services that SAT-7 PARS can offer viewers, we continue to pray for the future of Iranians’ access to technology due to financial hardship, and legislative restrictions on technology use and Christian worship.