By Arash Azizi, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
The real ‘back pain’ behind head of Iranian broadcaster’s resignation
Among the buildings lining the northernmost stretch of Tehran’s legendary Valiasr Avenue stands an imposing glass structure that is home to one of the most crucial centers of power in Iran — the state-run broadcaster, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). It is often simply referred to as the Glass Building, which is ironic given that its occupant is one of the least transparent organizations in the country. This is a lesson that Mohammad Sarafraz (pictured) learned the hard way.
Directly appointed in November 2014 by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Sarafraz took the helm promising change and reform. On May 10, however, he became the first IRIB director in recent history to resign, after only 18 months in office. His three predecessors each served two consecutive five-year terms. Sarafraz cited problems with “back pain” as the reason for his resignation, but few are buying his explanation. Al-Monitor followed up on Sarafraz’s resignation, speaking to several sources within IRIB.
With a billion-dollar budget and more than 50,000 employees, IRIB is a behemoth known by friends and foes as spectacularly wasteful. Officials in the Kuala Lumpur headquarters of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), which counts IRIB as a member and whose secretary-general is Iranian, told Al-Monitor that IRIB’s lack of transparency is legendary in the community of broadcasting bureaucrats.
“They have one of the largest budgets for any broadcasting organization, and yet produce so little that is of quality,” a Western source close to the ABU told Al-Monitor by phone from Kuala Lumpur. “Sarafraz was supposed to change this, but many of us were skeptical of his chances of success.”