Saturday, October 21, 2006

At VOA Persian Studios

The agenda on the last working day of our group during our US visit, included a visit to the VOA Persian services studios. My first brush with VOA Persian was when an IRI emblem was unnecessarily displayed on their website at the top of their Iran News section. The email protest which many others took part in as well, fortunately led to the removal of this un-Iranian symbol.

I had also been critical of SOME of VOA Persian programs and presenters on a handful of occasions. See:
VOA Persian versus Al-Alam TV
How VOA Confuses Iranian People [This was a pathetic interview with IRI agent, Hossein Derakhshan aka Hoder, portraying him as an opposition figure to the VOA audience.]

All the above, in my view, had been constructive criticism from a viewer. Criticisms that an accountable broadcasting media should welcome and have the decency to respond to.

I had no idea however that I had such a reputation amongst some of the VOA staff until we visited the studios. As soon as I entered the room, one of the staff who preferred to speak English, said to our host who was introducing us "Is this the guy who is always criticising us on his weblog?"
"Don't worry, criticism makes you stronger." I replied and followed our host.
"As long as it is fair criticism" He shouted back.
I broke from our group and turned back and asked "Which one do you think was not a fair one?" I was intrigued to know.
"I am not saying you have not been fair, I am just saying keep being fair". He said.

Well that was a fair point. One can't argue with that. We should always strive to be fair.

But the most surprising reaction was from Bill Royce. When he saw me in the studio, his eyes nearly popped out and I thought he was going to have a heart attack. I was in email correspondence with Bill Royce back in 1996, when I started the website for NMIR in memory of Dr. Bakhtiar. I think my last email to him was when I expressed condolences at the time his wife passed away. I saw no reason for any animosity between him and I. Yet it seemed that a few critical reviews of VOA Persian programs and style, had turned this guy very much against me. Well too bad, people that wish to have a job for life and not be accountable to anyone, should not work in institutions that claim to represent a democratic system. It gives the wrong impression.

When I left Royce's office, I heard him say behind my back, "What is that right wing Fascist doing here in the studio?". What an unfair comment, from an elderly man who should know better and choose his words more carefully.

So just to make Bill Royce happy, here is another criticism. Why has the VOA not covered the NUS's opposition to Khatami's visit to St. Andrews? 18 members of the NUS leadership have signed a letter of protest and have backed Iran's pro-democracy movement. Surely this would be an enormous moral boost to the students and activists inside Iran. These 18 members are available for interview and this would be a more suitable news program for the Iranian audience than covering the success of the Nazi party in a district of Germany!
Now if Bill Royce thinks the above criticism makes me a right wing Fascist, then thats his problem. It wont stop me from criticising the lack of initiative amongst the VOA program makers.

Three of us, including me, out of the five in our group agreed to hold an interview with Avi Davidi, about our trip. These interviews can be seen in :
Part I
Part II


Anonymous said...

Good Job, Thanks for doing it. Wonderful...

Aryamehr said...

Who's this "Bill Royce" guy?

I'm going to have a look at those clips...

Aryamehr said...


I don't think the links you provided are the correct ones...

Anonymous said...

درود به شرفت آذرمهر گرامی. امیدوارم همیشه موفق و پیروز باشی. زنده باد رضا شاه دوم.

Azarmehr said...

Aryamehre gerAmi,

The links work for me. If you click on the links it will take you to the start of the Shabahang program when Baharloo hands over to Behnood Mokri. Bear with it or FF until the time goes to around 10:35 on Part I for example.
The program that was broadcast was edited and for example a part that the differences between me and another group member would have been highlighted was not shown. Also notice my name Potkin is spelled as Pootkin in PArt I despite my repeated warnings.

Winston said...

Can I forward this story to Michael Ledeen?

Anonymous said...

So What!
So you went to America for the 5th time.....Let's see in what shape or form your idea's about them or the way the English system works is going to help you to put together some indepedent idea's of what is appropreit for the future of a free, Democratic and open society in Iran.

Aryamehr said...


You're right, I was able to view it a bit further into the clip.

It's a shame that you didn't have time to actually participate in a 1hr "Roundtable" programme as I know you have many important things to say not just in regards to your trip but specifically in regards to Iran. I'd really like to see you on Baharloo's show =)

Thank you for all your work.

Anonymous said...

Poor Potkin. Now, he has to become a theortician in "Anatomy of a Revolution to overthrow the IRI"...A tall order indeed.

Anonymous said...

پتکين عزيز و گرامی، خسته نباشيد. خيلی خوشحالم که شما نيز در اين برنامه شرکت کرديد و توانستيد نقطه نظرات طيفی از ايرانيان را که من خود را جزو آن می دانم به آمريکاييها منتقل کنيد. با توجه به ناهمگون بودن گروه شما چه بسا که در نبود شما برخی از خير خواهان ولی ساده لوحان نظرات يک جانبه ای را عرضه می کردند. از اهانتی که مسؤلی از راديو صدای آمريکا به شما کرده است خيلی متاسفم. احتمال دارد که وی از طرفداران جيمی کارتر و يا کلينتون و ديگر آماتور های سياسی آمريکا باشد

E. Frank van Persie said...

Potkin jaan,

Nice job. I agree with you also as far as your criticisms of VOA goes. Especially after how they treated Avi. I can't believe Royce called you a fascist. He used to be much more measured. But that place is quite chaotic, representing the way Iranians are in general. So you have some members of VOA who don't even like America and what it stands for!!! But that's how Iranians are.

Take care and best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Dr. William Royce is a senior advisor at VOA Persian who, among other things, decides which guests are invited to have an unfettered soap box at VOA. Royce is known for purposely seeking out agents of the regime, apologists among America's leftwing elite, and others who are anti-US in their agenda. He actually defends putting anti-US people on the air by stating they provide "balance" to VOA Persian broadcasting. Unfortunately, Royce is too thick to understand that he is paid in order to promote US views---not the views of the the mad mullahs or the ridiculous "reform" puppets of the regime (yeah, they aren't fooling anyone).

If the citizens of the US were able to understand a fragment of the filth that Royce and his cohorts are beaming into IRan, they would all be tarred, feathered, and beaten out of DC. And good riddence. It is time we hired real patriots to produce our AMERICAN broadcasting to Iran. If Royce is in love with the regime so much , he should move there and stop hurting the free world's efforts to hold Iran accountable.

Anonymous said...

betty: How can we stop this idiot?

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a perforamnce metric against which the effectiveness of this Broadcast should be determined? If they are not only effective but counterproductive and produce the exact opposite result as determined by their original objectives, they shouldn't they be de-funded and stopped?

Anonymous said...

Potkin Jan, great, balanced interview with Avi. I am glad that you learned about our country and we were objective enough to expose you to the bad and the good.
I believe that Mr. Talaee's pro-reformist views and agenda are not fooling anyone. Perhaps his views help to put the 3-4,000 USD in his lost/recovered wallet. If you see him ask him: Would he have found his wallet in Iran; during the fox's (Khatami) presidency??
As we say in California: he's got big cajones for coming to America, at our expense, and criticizing our policy towards IRI. I hope the make up of your group does not include him, in London at least.
Keep doing what you are doing, even though I don't agree with all your views. Dooroo...

Anonymous said...

Girls as young as 9 living in the streets in Iran
Sat. 21 Oct 2006
Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Oct. 21 – Girls as young as nine are running away from their homes and living on the streets in Iran, according to a classified report issued by the Ministry of Education.

The report was made public by several Persian-language news websites run by former government officials.

It notes that there is an exceptionally high number of run-away girls near Iran’s holy cities of Qom and Mashad.

Iran has one of the highest record of runaway girls and women in the world.

The state-run news agency ILNA reported in July that there were some 300,000 run-away women and girls in Iran and that 86 percent of girls who ran away from their homes for the first time were raped. The majority of such victims are rejected by their families if they choose to return after having been raped.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the thugh-in-chief wants to increase the population?

Iran's president urges higher birth rate
AP - Mon Oct 23, 12:28 PM ET
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's president is urging couples to have more children to boost the country's population, state media said. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his administration would reduce the working hours of women to allow them to have more children.

Rosemary Welch said...

Good for you! Mr. Royce must be ignorant to the fact that Nazis were the true fascists.

I surely do wish people would grow up. Calling people names is so childish.

Maybe if he disagrees, he could just so. You would think that of a grown man, but not someone on the Lenin-Left.

I will calling people in Congress and the White House about this issue. Thank you for the information.

H/t: Winston.

Bardia said...

thank you dear potkin,
the VOA program is one of the cheapest programs that i've seen because they announce all of time, we just show the various ideas and leave the results or points for viewers but they control the agendas and points in very funny way.everyone agrees that critisism makes us stronger but for whom like VOA's staff, it's not possible because of their lack of knowledge about broadcasting and everything.
good luck

Anonymous said...

Hoder spreading lies. Disgusting. I'm appalled.

Anonymous said...

to Rosemary: Bill Royce is Jewish, and presumably a Zionist, so he knows what the Nazis were, and he cant have any affinity for Ayatollahs

Anonymous said...

So someone else knows Royce was Jewish. He died Nov 24 2017