President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday officially launched Iran’s latest foreign-language news channel, a 24-hour satellite broadcaster aimed at Spanish speakers worldwide.
“Viva EspaÃ±a, viva America Latina,” he said in Spanish at the end of a televised speech to dignitaries attending the launch ceremony in Tehran.
The state-funded channel, HispanTV, has already been test-broadcasting since mid-November from its offices in Tehran, using a staff of Iranian, Spanish and Latin American journalists.
HispanTV’s website said it aims “to reach millions of people in Latin America, the United States and Europe.”
It pledged “transparency” as it sought to present “the cultural reality of Iran, the Middle East and Latin America.”
It joins another Iranian channel, Press TV, which broadcasts in English but whose London operations lost their British licence in January on the grounds they were being controlled editorially from Tehran.
Iran also finances an Arabic channel, Al-Alam, and three other outlets that part of the time offer programmes in Turkish, French and Urdu.
The foreign-language broadcasts aim to counter what Iran sees as biased reporting against it, especially in Western and Arab media.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent a message hailing HispanTV’s launch that was read out at Tuesday’s ceremony.
The new Spanish channel is to offer news, films, documentaries and series, Iranian state television said.
Ahmadinejad in early January visited Venezuela and three other Latin American countries — Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador — in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties in the face of Western efforts to isolate Iran.
The United States, which is leading a sanctions campaign aimed at halting Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, warned Latin American states against deepening their ties with Iran.