HispanTV, the first Spanish-language channel produced in the Middle East, is Iran's latest foreign-language news channel.
At the launch ceremony, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it would deal a blow to "dominance seekers,” a clear reference to the United States and European countries that have faced off with Iran.
IRIB, Iran's state-owned public broadcasting corporation, also runs the contested English channel Press TV, plus an Arabic channel, Al-Alam and three other outlets that offer programs in Turkish, French and Urdu.
"It will be a means for better ties between people and governments of Iran and Spanish-speaking nations," said the president. Ahmadinejad recently visited Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to improve Iran’s standing in Latin American countries.
HispanTV has a clear political intention to spread the government line on news and bring the culture of Iran abroad. IJNet checked it out and found a few key points:
World News: The channel broadcasts news from Iran, Middle East and the world all day with a special emphasis on international news concerning Latin America. The channel tends to focus on countries considered allies (such as Venezuela and Cuba) and when it does, the news reports are favorable to the government in power. Even with our brief viewing time, it was clear there was no mention of opposition parties or touchy topics like Chavez's bout with cancer.
Culture: The rest of its airtime is dedicated to broadcasting Iranian films and documentaries translated into Spanish that shed light on Muslim culture. Movies like "Children of Heaven" can be seen both on the channel and viewed streaming from HispanTV's web site.
Reports and correspondents: The channel's international news reports are thorough, though many are too long and the images are of poor quality. The format and structure are similar to those of other major news networks like CNN, as you can see from this report of a bilateral agreement between Brazil and Cuba from correspondent Rony Curvelo.
Ideology: Although in general the stories don't have opinions, it is clearly a state-run channel and slanted against those countries in conflict with Iran. For example, the opinion pieces emphasize that the Iranian president toured Latin America "to stop the imperialist madness" and speak of the "criminal imperialism" of the United States.
Web: The HispanTV website provides a comprehensive overview of the channel's content and is updated quite frequently. For the website of a TV channel, video content is scarce.
Overall, the channel is probably interesting for those Spanish speakers who want to know more about Iranian culture, since the films it broadcasts can be difficult to find translated into Spanish. They can find the same international news in other places but maybe not from the Iranian government's point of view, so those looking for a different (if slanted) take may also find it interesting.