Irib Research Paper

A content analysis of health-related advertisements in Islamic Republic of Iran broadcasting (IRIB)

Koorosh Etemad, 1 Parvin Ebrahimi, 2 Hassan Azimi, 3 Mansoureh Lotfi, 4 and Marzieh Nojomi 5 ,*

1 MD, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Shahid-Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran., moc.liamg@kdamete

2 PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services Management, School of Health Management and Information Sciences, & Health Management and Economics Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. moc.oohay@be_nivrap

3 MD, Community Medicine Resident, Community Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. moc.liamg@009imiza

4 MSc, Health Services Management, Vice-Chancellor for Research, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. moc.oohay@7731iftol_m

5 MD, MPH, Professor of Community Medicine Department, School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

(Corresponding author) MD, MPH, Professor of Community Medicine Department, School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Author information ►Article notes ►Copyright and License information ►

Received 2015 Sep 8; Accepted 2016 Jan 23.

Copyright © 2016 Iran University of Medical Sciences

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 3.0 License (CC BY-NC 3.0), which allows users to read, copy, distribute and make derivative works for non-commercial purposes from the material, as long as the author of the original work is cited properly.

Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2016; 30: 353.

Published online 2016 Apr 11.


Background: Media advertisements especially radio and TV are one of the most important and effective ways for health promotion and consumption of healthy productions worldwide. Ministry of Health and some other ministries in Iran agreed to control and restrict the advertising of unhealthy products and services. Therefore, adequate supervision and monitoring should be done in this field. A content analysis of Health-related Advertisements was done in Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional research and collecting of data was carried out in 2012. Ten selected TV and radio channels were recorded from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. for two successive months in the special weekdays. Broadcasted advertisements data were extracted by the trained observers according to a checklist and analyzed using SPSS 18 software and described with descriptive statistics.

Results: The percentage of different types of advertising were including 73.9% unrelated to health, 21.9% harmless health related, 2.9% less healthy, 1.3% harmful or harmful with a probability of abuse. Non-harmful to health advertisements included 95.86% of total advertisements out of ten TV and radio channels; and the remained advertisements (4.14%) were related to the harmful, less healthy foodstuff and detrimental services and products. Also, 0.8% of the advertisements were shown during children programs.

Conclusion: The main findings of the current study revealed that majority of the advertisements of Islamic Republic Broadcasting were unrelated to health. It seems advertising of harmful for health in IRIB was less than 5%, and the levels of these type ads were less than the other countries. Even so, the policymakers need to pass and enforce some executive and governing law for the prevention of broadcasting unhealthy advertisements to increase the society health level and prevent the diseases resulted from unhealthy products causing the considerable damages in a long time.

Keywords: Advertisements, Health, Television, Radio


Nowadays, overweight and obesity are global problems, as the marketing of the energetic and junk food is one of the principal reasons (1). Different studies have confirmed that many commercial advertisements are contrary to the healthy nutrition (2). The consumption of the advertised foods is more than the non-advertised foods (3). Despite the growing power of social media, TV advertising is still the most influential medium in buying decisions of people (4).

Advertising of unhealthy food means that television advertisements encourage consumption of the products with high fat, sugar, and/ or sodium. According to previous studies, most of the television food advertisements promote unhealthy food products or reveal unhealthy nutritional information that causes more preferences for and buying unhealthy food products. Also, some studies have shown that food advertising affects consumption of foods with high total calorie (5).

Various studies have shown that exposure to television food advertisements is one of the main factors influencing the diet and eating behaviors and preferences of people, which finally affects the outcomes such as obesity and overweight (4,6).

According to a study in the USA, the American children watch 20000-40000 advertisements per year (7). A similar study in Australia showed that watching more ads increases interest and intention to harmful foods such as sweet, meat, fast food and sweet drinks (8,9). In other research on adults, similar findings were reported (10).

For analysis of commercial advertisements in Swiss media, six prominent Swiss TV channels, one German and an Italian channel were studied. All TV programs were recorded and analyzed for six months. The findings showed that 55% of advertisements concern candy and fast food. They mainly advertised the consumption of sweet and fatty foods, without any healthy advertisements for fruit and vegetables (11).

In an identical research in Canada, four Canadian TV and three famous British channels were monitored for one week in 2006. After analysis of advertisements according to the scientific criteria of healthy/ unhealthy foodstuff, it was concluded that 52-61% of the advertisements were related to the unhealthy foodstuff (12). According to the findings of an Iranian study in 2008, television’s food advertisements were identified as the factors influencing healthy lifestyle among the senior citizens (13). A study in 2009 showed that children exposed to food advertising consumed 45% more food. Adults also had more consumption of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods in similar condition (14).

Advertising plays a significant role in habits and preferences of people. Mass media, especially TV, has a major effect on adopting a healthy lifestyle by people. This mass media associated with social support of friends, family members, and health professionals and other organizations can be effective while concentrating their programs on the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Messages provided in this area should be attractive, clear, proportionate, understandable and in accordance with people culture. It is clear that making the messages consistent with age and change stage of people is one of the duties of health professionals (13).

Advertisements of harmful services and products have been declared forbidden for all media which could be followed by fine according to Iranian 5-year development program law passed by Islamic legislative assembly in schedule 2011. Since there may be differences between the law and execution, so the executive organizations shall enforce and control the regulation to influence on their performance.

In any cases, there is a close relationship between consuming high-quality healthy foodstuff and the standard matters with public health, and if it is ignored, it may cause serious danger to public health of society in the future.All health authorities have to notice the role of advertising programs on health goals in order to prevent the related diseases.

Hence, studies should pay more attention to this issue. Moreover, the majority of studies on the status of health-related television and radio advertising have been conducted in Europe and the USA. In Iran an extensive study has not been done yet to compare the advertisements of hazardous or healthy products and to determine their congruence with current health recommendations provided by the Ministry of Health.

Therefore, this research was conducted to study the health-related advertisements in Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), and specifying the kind of the advertisements was not healthy. So the findings may also help policymakers and authorities to plan and make reasonable and constructive decisions on health-related program of advertisements broadcasting to promote public health.


This study was a cross-sectional research conducted to explore the status of health-related advertisements in 2012. Different channels of IRIB were considered as the research population, and the list of which was prepared by internet websites. Because of a variety of IRIB channels, the researchers decided to monitor TV and radio programs using a sampling method. The sample channels were chosen for monitoring according to the list of all local networks and based on the priority of advertisements and geographical distribution on the map. Among 16 Nationwide TV networks, 17 Provincial TV networks and 14 Radio networks, the following channels were selected to study:

Nationwide networks: Channel 1, Channel 2, Channel 3;

Provincial networks: A) Tehran, B) Gilan, C) Khouzestan, D) Isfahan;

Radio networks: 1) Nationwide Radio, 2) Payam Radio, and 3) Youth Radio.

To have different audiences of TV and radio channels, recording the advertising information was on a rotating basis throughout the week. Since some popular programs include movies, serials, entertainments, and sport programs such as football leagues were broadcasted in special week days, mid-week days were selected in rotation to cover all programs and their audience. Also, because the audience may have much more time for watching IRIB programs at weekends, TV and radio programs were recorded in Thursdays and Fridays for all the weeks.

The selected weekdays of the first week were included in: Saturday, Sunday, Thursday, and Friday, and the second week were also involved: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and the third week took in: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, which was repeated the same from the fourth weeks as explained.

The programs were recorded from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. for two successive months. All of the advertisements broadcasted in IRIB (such as commercial, educational, etc.) except two types of TV advertisements (blipverts: A blipvert is a very brief television advertisement that lasts just one or several seconds) and subtitle advertising) were included in this study.

The study data was collected using the observational method and a researcher-made checklist which its validity was attested using an expert panel method and carrying out a pilot study. The basic items of the data collection checklist were extracted based on the literature review, and the checklist draft was reviewed by nine experts who were specialists in community medicine, nutrition, health education, media, health economics and health care management. Then according to the experts’ feedbacks, the corrections were made to the initial draft, and the final checklist was composed and approved. The checklist items were included: number, date, broadcasting time, product type, advertisements duration and channel name/ code.

For the pilot study, all observers completed some checklists according to a sample of recorded TV and radio advertisements, and then their forms were compared with each other, and some minor revisions were made in the final checklist.

The recorded programs were reviewed by the selected observers who completed the checklists. The observers were chosen among volunteer experts working at Iran University of Medical Sciences. Because all observers were trained to complete the checklists and all advertising information were extracted from the recorded advertisements, the study checklist was fully completed with no missing data in this study.

After checking and analysis of checklists, data processing was started using Excel software.

The encoding method was used to separate and classify the advertised products according to the criteria based on the guidelines of Iran Ministry of Health. To control and restrict the advertising of unhealthy products and services, Ministry of Health in collaboration with other departments (Industry and Mines, Welfare and Social Security, Trade and Economic Affairs and Finance Ministries) enacted the regulations concerning health-related advertisements broadcasting. Therefore, adequate supervision and monitoring should be done in this area, and television networks and radio stations have to pay fines in the cases of the rules violation.

According to Ministry of Health guidelines, the classifications of unhealthy products and services are listed below:

1) Less healthy: bulked cereals (puff paste, crunchy, etc.), beverages (such as cola, energized drinks), Chips, etc.

2) Harmful to Health:

  • Cosmetic services (such as solarium tanning, tattoos, hair and nail implant, etc‏.)

  • Spraying poison services without supervision of Ministry of Health‏

  • Nutritional counseling and medications for weight loss and obesity, the intervention measures to increase the height, and bodybuilding clubs without supervision of Ministry of Health

  • Pools and recreation water centers(water parks) without supervision of Ministry of Health

  • ‏ Environment and water decontamination services without supervision of Ministry of Health

3) Harmful to health and probability of abuse drugs:

  • All kinds of medicines without the authorization of Ministry of Health

  • Products or actions representative of high-risk behaviors (such as consuming fast food and industrial food products, tobacco use including cigarette and hookah, etc‏).

Statistical analysis of the study was performed using SPSS 18. Data was analyzed in the descriptive method, and statistical diagrams and tables specify the status of IRIB advertisements generally regarding average time in “seconds”, and healthy products in “percentage” among which the harmful products and services were determined and classified according to the related criteria.


The classification of unhealthy advertisements categorized by Ministry of Health was mentioned above. However the advertisements broadcasted by IRIB and monitored during this study in 2012 was as follows:

  • a) Advertisements unrelated to health (such as civil, communication services, banking, education, private institutes, culture, trading, home appliances, cars, insurance, industry, etc);

  • b) Harmless advertisements (e.g., detergent, health products, dairy, groceries, rice, spaghetti, fish can, foodstuff, restaurants, swimming pools, sports equipment, etc);

  • c) Less healthy advertisements (such as beverage, types of chips, puff paste, crunchy, etc);

  • d) Harmful advertisements (just hair implant was broadcasted);

  • e) Harmful advertisements with a probability of abuse include (just the fast food was broadcasted).

The results of analyzing TV and radio advertisements are shown in the statistical diagrams and tables. The overall time in seconds spent for all the advertisements in ten TV and radio channels were as follows:

  • √ Total recorded time: 638811 seconds (100%

  • √ Non-harmful to health advertisements: 612339 seconds (95.86%

  • √ Harmful to health ads: 2334 seconds (0.37%

  • √ Harmful to health with the probability of abuse: 5495seconds (0.86%

  • √ Less healthy: 18643seconds (2.91%) (Table 1)

    Table 1

    Time (seconds) spent for Advertisements Related and Unrelated to Health in Ten TV and Radio Channels

Because of lack of scientific criteria, it is impossible to determine harmfulness of health services advertised by IRIB in national and local levels in 2012. This matter can be considered as one of the study limitations. Nevertheless, advertisement of health services includes the following items: clinicians’ complex, clinics, swimming pools and water parks, etc‏.

Table 2 indicates the frequency and time spent (in seconds) for total advertisements of the ten TV and radio channels according to types of health products (Table 2).

Table 2

Frequency and Time Spent for advertisements of Ten TV and Radio Channels according to Types of Health Products

Furthermore, 26.1% of the time spent (in seconds) for total advertisements out of ten TV and radio channels of concerned to health. The time percentage of advertisements of harmful products and services compared to total IRIB advertisements in national and local levels during the period of study in 2012 are as follows: Less healthy advertisements (2.9%), harmful advertisements (0.4%), harmful advertisements with a probability of abuse (0.9%) (Table 3, Diagram 1).

Table 3

Classification of Time Spent for Advertisements of ten TV and Radio Channels in terms of Health Harmfulness

According to the findings, 80.9% of advertisements were broadcasted between different programs, 0.8% of total advertisements during children programs, 1.38% ad during sport programs, 13.66% ad during entertainment programs, 0.3% ad during educational programs, 2.5% ad during family programs, and 0.49% ad during documentary programs, interviews, and scientific meetings (Diagram 2).

The main findings of this study revealed that the majority of advertisements of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting in 2012 were unrelated to health, and a tiny number of advertisements were harmful to health. It showed that 4.14% of the advertisements were related to the harmful, less healthy foodstuff and harmful services and products, such as beverage, types of chips, puff paste, crunchy, hair implant, and fast food, etc.


This study aimed to evaluate health-related advertising in IRIB. The advertisements of the ten Iranian TV and radio channels in the special days for two successive months were monitored. The results showed non-harmful to health advertisements involved more than 95% of total advertisements of the ten TV and radio channels in the study; and the remained advertisements were related to the harmful, less healthy foodstuff and detrimental services and products. Also, near one percent of the advertisements were shown during children programs.

In 2014, in a similar study which was performed in Ireland, 322 TV advertisements of foodstuff and drinks were recorded, of which 66.3% were related to the food, and the more recorded advertisements concerned fast foods (27.3%). The findings also indicated that new laws shall be passed for controlling advertisements of unhealthy foodstuff broadcasted during children programs (15). It seems that the levels of fast foods advertising in IRIB broadcasting are less than the other country.

An article published in 2013 indicated that, in spite of the reduction of TV advertisement costs by 19.4%, the children and teenagers still watch 12-16 advertisements a day which included the foods with high saturated fats, sugar or sodium (16). In a study carried out in Singapore, 33% of analyzed advertisements were related to the foodstuff, 38% of foodstuff advertisements were recognized healthy and 57% unhealthy (2). These results are not in compliant with the findings of the current study which may show IRIB more commitment to the regulations related to foodstuff advertising.

In a research carried out in Mexico, 22% of advertisements were concerned to the foodstuff and 50% of the advertisements were related to the children (17). It was confirmed in an analysis of three Australian commercial channels that 25.5% of advertisements were related to the foodstuff, and a large number of advertisements were broadcasted in the hours children were watching TV (18). In this study, the advertisements broadcasted during children programs were less than the ending hours of the night, which doesn’t match to the results of two mentioned studies in this case.

The results of analyzing six national TV commercial channels in Malaysia during a period of six months in 2008 indicated that the highest rate of advertisements was related to snack (34.5%) mostly broadcasted during the hours children were watching TV (19). Furthermore, the findings of studying foodstuff advertisements in three Australian TV channels showed that 31% of advertisements were concerned to foodstuff, and 81% focused on the unhealthy foods (1). Whereas the findings of the current study revealed that TV and radio advertisements may be more supervised by health authorities.

Commercial advertisements of six prominent Swiss TV channels, a German and an Italian channel were recorded and analyzed for six months in 2011. Findings represented that 55% of advertisements were related to fast food and candies. The most commercial messages advertised sweet and fatty foods, without any healthy advertisement of fruits and vegetables (11). In a similar research in 2009, four TV Canadian and three famous British channels were studied for one week. After advertisement analysis according to the scientific criteria of healthy and unhealthy foodstuff, it was confirmed that 52-61% of advertisements were related to unhealthy foodstuff (12). It may be due to neglecting or non-compliance with regulations and rules.

In two third of countries, the foodstuff advertisements include 40% of total advertisements. In a research, TV advertisements in 13 countries (Australia, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, England and USA) were studied for 20 hours of children programs; the results showed that Australia, USA and England had the highest rate of foodstuff advertisements and the lowest ones were for Sweden (7). While, in this research, the health-related advertisements consist of only 27.3% of total advertisements, in this regard, the foodstuff advertisements in IRIB have a better status than the pointed countries. According to the results of this study, near to one-third of TV advertisements is related to the health of which few amount is concerned to the advertisements of foodstuff without nutritional value, or unhealthy and harmful ones.


The findings of this research showed that healthy, anti-obesity, and mixed food advertising decreased consuming total calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates (5). It is found that exposure to food advertisements can change eating preferences and behaviors (20). Therefore, practitioners and decision makers should be aware of the spread of food advertising and the possibility of the impact on knowledge and behavior. They should make an effort to encourage producers to create and promote weight-friendly foods (3).

According to the results of this study, it is recommended that besides keeping the current status of TV and radio advertising, the healthier foodstuff advertisements should be presented, and Ministry of Health should impose more supervision based on the legal responsibilities, and consider the contribution of the appropriate stakeholders. Moreover, the government would be obliged to pay subsidiary to the industries owners for movement of food industries for producing healthier foods. Concerning the relation between health and food, and due to the effect of advertising on health, the media especially radio and TV should provide the necessary knowledge to the society in this case, with broadcasting healthy advertisement.


As one of the study limitations, due to differences in the nature and type of advertisements broadcasting in Iran and its related regulations, the generalizing of the results to other countries may not be possible. It was not possible to determine harmfulness of health services in this study because there had not been performed any particular scientific study yet and the scientific criteria were not available. Also, recording TV and radio programs including advertisements needed lots of time and energy, and saving and getting a backup of the recorded TV and radio programs was challenging.


Cite this article as: Etemad K, Ebrahimi P, Azimi H, Lotfi M, Nojomi M. A content analysis of health-related advertisements in Islamic Republic of Iran broadcasting (IRIB). Med J Islam Repub Iran 2016 (11 April). Vol. 30:353.


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Articles from Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran are provided here courtesy of Iran University of Medical Sciences

Provide a Model for Policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting(Case study: IRIB)

Taher Roshandel Arbatani1, Somayeh Labafi1*, Hoseyn Razi2 and Mahdieh Jalalpoor3

1Department of media Management, Faculty of management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2Department of communication, Faculty of IRIB, University of IRIB, Tehran, Iran

3Department of Management, Faculty of Administrial Sciences and Economic, University of Isfahan, Iran

*Corresponding Author:
Somayeh Labafi
M.A. Student of Media management
Department of media Management
Faculty of management, University of Tehran
Tehran, Iran
Tel: 9132290858
E-mail:[email protected]

Received Date: November 08, 2011; Accepted Date: December 06, 2011; Published Date: December 09, 2011

Citation: Arbatani TR, Labafi S, Razi H, Jalalpoor M (2011) Provide a Model for Policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (Case study: IRIB). J Mass Communicat Journalism 1:103. doi:10.4172/2165-7912.1000103

Copyright: © 2011 Arbatani TR, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Because of important role of media in shaping public opinion in modern societies, it seems necessary to develop long-term policies in order to steer the media towards a great level. Despite its importance, there have been no effort for shaping the media policy, and most publications just consist of explanation of governments’ performance in media field. In the present study, attempts were to achieve the desired model for policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) [1] by explanation the necessity and challenges in front of this media. We use literature to find the factors affecting the media policy also achieve lots of information during the interview process. The research method used in this study is the data-oriented theory (grounded theory) which has been made through profound interviews with 12 experts in the field of media as well as senior managers of IRIB and academic experts. The sampling has been carried out through the Snowball method and the interviews’ results have been put in the paradigm model format after the coding phase and then the optimal policy-making model has been shaped for IRIB.


Media; Policy-making; Media policy process; Media policy model


The media organizations environments have experienced profound and complicated changes in recent decades. An important part of this transformation is due to the emergence of new information technologies and changes in living and subjective conditions of audience which has added the complication and turbulence of these organizations’ environments. Since media organizations operate in a complicated and changeable environment, they require a road map to manage this environment and react against its sudden changes properly.

The policy-making in any field reflects the values of a society and should be developed in. The policy-making in the media is no exception and needs to follow the patterns and values dominant in the society. The policy-making process in the media is an attempt to achieve political, cultural and social goals in which the society’s values and political factors are necessarily involved and the desired pattern is not achievable in this field unless these factors are considered in each society [2].

IRIB as the largest media in the country and the only entity licensed to broadcast Radio and Television media in Iran requires efficient strategies and policies to be able to retain its position between other media and to improve it in the future – given the changes and complications in the environment.

IRIB is under supervision of the supreme leader in terms of governance and its president has full authority to manage the organization. The conducted investigations show that in recent years, the policy-making process in this media organization has followed no specific policy and therefore, we cannot consider a specific policymaking process for it. This lack of proper policy and also the weaknesses viewed in relation to the macro policies in the organization, directed this research to study the policy-making process in this organization.

Literature Review

The research theoretical basics review the research literature about the necessity of media policy-making, the challenges ahead and the policy-making models in media.

Necessity of media policy

The policy-making of communication and information technologies is necessary for governments because of multiple reasons. First, the communication systems have an important and effective role in political processes. Second, the international information technologies and communication have an impact on the nations’ social and cultural issues. The third reason for why media policy-making is important for the governments is complete inseparability between the real and virtual spaces [3]. Freedman [2] in response to the question of “why do we need policy-making in the media?” considers the media an important economical factor in western societies and introduces the media as an important factor of social reproduction which is able to play an important role in the social and cultural processes.

UNESCO (1972) explains the media policy-making in different countries as follows: each state has a policy for the media. Sometimes, the policy-makings are scattered and inexplicit rather than reflected as a coordinated set. The media policy-making may be very general and only address the goals and principals or it may define the details as well and be mandatory for the media. This policy-making may have multiple levels in terms of comprehensiveness and development method [4].

Media policy model

Freedman [2], presents two policy-making models each one of which are adopted from two Pluralism and neo-liberalism schools and he also shows that how fundamental values of the two schools have affected the media policy-making structure. His approach is critical and he criticizes both Pluralism and neo-liberalism schools on the media policy.

From damages of the Pluralism viewpoint, Freedman argues that despite the increase of stakeholders and apparent increase in referral of the policy-making issues to the stockholders, there is a centrality in policy-making for media in this model. Some of the core values of the policy-making model in the Pluralism school include: keeping multiple players in the policy-making field, creating a competitive open space and preserving the interests of all stakeholder groups in the society in the policy-making process. But in fact, the policy-makers act within borders of a specific ideology that is consistent with their interests. The policy-making case that Freedman has presented in this book, confirms the way the media policy-making is consistent with opinions and interests of the major players in the politics and economy fields.

The next model that Freedman introduces is the media policy model which was designed based on the Neo-liberal school principles. The Neo-liberal school is opposed to the government’s role in the media market decision-making and believes that turning to the free market is essential. Therefore, the economical players owning most big media that have a close relationship with the governments in USA and England (two countries studied by Freedman), have a major role in the media policy and legislation.

The next model which will be further shown [Figure 1], has designed the main elements of the media policy-making based on existing goals and values in the society [5].

This model is applicable in countries where the media policy is performed by the government. In this model, the public interests are the general goals which are followed in a country and are linked to the public interests. In order to separate public interests different areas, this area will be divided into smaller scopes such as political interests, social interests and economic interests.

The values associated with each of these goals are specified in the next part of the model. The democracy and freedom of communication are the main values in the political interest area or the social and cultural values are the main values of the social interests and also, the increase in the economic interests is also considered one of the fundamental values of the economic interests. The next section shows how different contents are published through different media channels such as publication industry, Radio and Television broadcasting or telecommunication industry. In bottom part of the model, it has been shown that how the media policy-making and legislation in different areas have an impact on other processes.

Talking about media policy-making without discussing the type and the extent of government intervention will not be accurate. Smith [6] introduced a new political approach in this context that has changed the policy-making models in England including the increased number of people involved in media policy-making and also opening up new fields in policy-making. He has a historical review of media policy-making in England and shows how this policy-making was made by the government and under its direct supervision previously while today there is not such a control [7]. Smith writes, due to changes in technology, in particular, direct Radio and Television broadcast satellites, Europe TV policy-making which before was made by the government, Now it appears to have less government control. In fact, Smith’s structured and scientific justification offers a watchful and critical analysis about media policy-making in the United Kingdom. Smith’s approach is less ideological and analyzes the media policymaking mostly with regard to complexities of decision-making and a wide variety of policy-makers and its unpredictable results.

McQuail [8] defines the media policy as a project in which the government and the field administrators legislate for the media. Sometimes this legislation is national and sometimes international. The media policy points to the governmental policy-making and presence of guarantee tools that have been created for controlling the media markets. The regulatory tools in the pattern provided by the McQuail include:

- Public ownership

- Subsidies

- licensing powers

- content rules

- trade barriers

- trade agreement

This policy-making model by McQuail has two key challenges. First, it does not consider the informal processes and gives a little credit to other players except the government. Second, it assumes the policymaking area to be limited. In support for this analysis, Barman [9] explains how the hidden policy-making has affected media situation in recent years. He believes that we must look to the hidden political lobbies rather than look to the overt role of governments.

The next model which is remarkable for the media policy-making is provided by Olmsted [10]. He identifies the external environment and internal environment of media organizations as the two pillars of the competitive environment in each media company.

New paradigm of policy

As Abramson [11] argues, the emergence of the internet and digital mass media indicate the end of history of media policymaking. This agreement on the reduction of media policymaking relies mostly on policymaking for radio and television broadcasting. However, it can be claimed that even if such a reduction exists, the policymaking will not be terminated, but a new form of media policymaking will be shaped which constitutes a big change in the field.

According to Montgomery [12] the media in general are increasingly creating a range in which it is impossible to make policy. Specially, there are convergent trends which make it more difficult to maintain the traditional distinction between the various media sections in terms of policymaking and supervision. Media policymaking is a primary factor in shaping the media direction, and also is an outlook for the media in shaping the human environment. According to plenty of researchers, the governments are and would be the major players in developing and implementing media policies. In this regard, the countries’ laws operate as a vehicle to provide more governmental supervision. Latency factors, including lobbying, political and economic power of the media have an effective role in media policy process [13].

According to Hemerijck [1] the values are the essential and complementary elements in new media paradigm. This approach creates a grouping to carry out better analysis which permits us to determine the future challenges in terms of various functions of the Media. The media policymaking in the new paradigm is closely related to the state’s behavior, social agencies, policy makers, and media specialists. However, in these days the controlling power of the state on the media policymaking is decreasing and media policy process more reliant on information obtained from the research. Increasing confidence to policy makers for research results has occurred [14]. A historical review of media policy in the Britain shows that how these policies by the government made and how now this control is lost [6].


Grounded theory is an interpretive approach which includes a collection of procedures used for systematically gathering and analyzing the data obtained by doing research, in order to investigate and study a phenomenon to propose an inductive theory [15]. This approach is a research method that seeks for generating a theory, and is grounded in conceptual data which are gathered and analyzed systematically. The theory’s methodology allows the researcher to form the theoretical foundation from the general features of an issue grounded in observations or experimental data. The difference between grounded theorization development and other approaches is its specific technique in terms of theory development. In grounded theorization there should be a mutual influence between the data collection and data analysis.

This study employs a qualitative approach and applies grounded theory as research method. Grounded theory is a qualitative study used to generate a theory by using a data set. This theory develops a process, action, or interaction at a broad level. In this method, the research never begins with a theory which looks for data to confirm itself. In contrast, it begins with a study period during which there is enough time for relevant and appropriate data to be revealed [16].

Considering the research subject, the statistical population of the current study includes instructors and specialists in the field of media, as well as the senior managers of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) who are selected through utilizing chain-referral method. Sampling method is snowballing technique (chain-referral). In snowball sampling, the samples not only provide information about them but also give referrals to other samples in relevant population [17].This method starts with a primary interview most often with a key respondent, and then he/she is asked to introduce friends, relatives, or others who are potentially appropriate for interviewing. Data collection method is an in-depth interview. 12 people were interviewed in this research [2]. Duplicated information was seen after the eighth interview, but the interview continued up to twelfths sample; however, the data were exactly similar and saturated after the tenth interview [3]. The interview started with questions related to “the essential components of policymaking patterns in Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Organization” (open-ended interview) and continued with the remaining questions which were constructed according to the interviewee’s responses. The interviews were all recorded and reviewed several times in order to extract the key points [4].

First step: Open codification

Open codification stages include:

1. Analysis and codification: In this stage, sampling should be done wide enough to enable researcher to discover concepts openly. In fact, the researcher should focus on codification of any interesting events. Plenty of codes might be extracted from an interview (text), but while the data are reviewed constantly, the new codes are counted and the final codes are determined.

2. Discovery of categories: In this stage, called categorization (theme developing), the concepts are categorized based on the relationship they have with relevant issues. The way we label the categories are more abstract than the concepts that form the category. Categories are highly conceptual; because, they can embrace concepts along their axes. The labels are mostly chosen by the researcher and it was attempted to select them in most accordance with the implying data. The phrases or words expressed by the participants in the study (by interviewees) are also of the reasons in label selection, which would likely to be applied by the researcher.

3. Description of categories according to their properties: In order to have more clear categories, the next step addresses their properties.

4. Open codification table: It includes two sections: the table of primary codes extracted from interviews and the table of categories extracted from concepts along with their secondary codes.

Primary codification: In this stage, all key points obtained from interviews are titled. Then, all the titles are put in following tables [Table 1]. A sample of primary code mined from one of the interviews is presented in following table.

 Primary codification(first interview)
The law is face with serious challenges, the law should be revised.
Leadership Determine macro policies of IRIB
The main input in the policymaking process of IRIB com from the leader
Mechanism of communication between the organization and leadership in the policy is not clear.
By law, the Council has been monitoring the organization.
Council representative don’t has executive powers.
Mechanism should be designed to reach the elites demands.
Media should produce what audience need.
Audience tastes will change over time.
Audience access to information systems is now widespread.
Demands of audience should be As input data of policy-making process.
Intellectual leaders in shaping public opinion and persuasion are effective.
The observation of the Competitors is not deep.
Case has been observed continuously for organizing observations.
Knowing Mental context of what competitors are producing for the media is necessary.
The problem is finding a consistent opinion poll.
Plurality of input in policy-making process should be done.
For a comprehensive view, your input in media policy must be different.
Monitor the enforcement of the law by media should be done by the Cultural Commission.

Table 1: Primary codification.

Secondary codification and issues forming: During the next stage, primary codes are turned into secondary codes because of their large numbers, and fall into similar categories. Several secondary codes are turned into a conceptual code. In following table [Table 2], for instance, the open codification results are presented based on secondary codes, conceptual codes, and issues.

Issues Conceptual code Secondary code Abundance
    Understand the necessity for policy   correction policy process This media organization need to clear policy
There is no formulation of policy
IRIB need media policy mechanism
There is no pattern in this organization for policy
  Understand the need for policy process Necessary to understand media policy
Diversity in the policy process
Ambiguity in the roles of policy
  Pathology of existing policy process The model of organization s policy need to correction
There is no central coherence in policy of IRIB 
There is missing in chain of media policy
Need for shaping policy system
  Content policy Most policy is massage in media
Most Policy announced by leader is content policy
Almost all policies serve content in media policy
  Procedural legitimacy Lack of process legitimacy There is no process legitimacy in the media policy
IRIB don’t have formal policy process
  Problems of person oriented policies Performance of organization is completely depended to manager
Influence of dependent manager to the policy 
  Interaction of media and university   Necessity of interact between media and university Universities are far away from the policy process
Academics should be entered in theatrical field of policy
IRIB should consult with professionals in university for policy making
University is far from the executive process in IRIB
Inefficiency in the research that is done in university More than before, Interaction with academic institution
Policies are not data driven in IRIB
Issues organized by expert groups

Table 2: Issues, conceptual code and Secondary code.

Main cases forming: during the next stage, Issues are turned into main classes because of fall into similar categories. In following table [Table 3], for instance, the issues results main classes.

Main classes Issues
designing competitive thinking mechanismsAttracting audience
Competitive thinking
Long-term approach
Interaction with stakeholders
political mechanismsAvoiding politicization
Interaction with macro-policies of country
Interaction with the supreme Council of Cultural Revolution
legal mechanismsReforming the regulations
The essentiality of relationship between the IRIB and the Islamic Consultative Assembly
regulatory   mechanismsHighlighting the role of the regulatory council
Promoting supervision system
Planning research and professional mechanismsInteraction between the Media and the University
Understanding the need for specialists
management mechanismsThe level of authority of middle managers
One-dimensional views
Expansion of the range of policy makers
The highlighted role of the head of the organization
Cultural mechanismsDesigning cultural mechanisms
Supreme Leader’s policies
Media and the values
Interaction between the IRIB and IRIB’s general values
designing efficient policiesProcedural legitimacy
Conceptualization of the necessity of policymaking
Preparing the organization for setting up policymaking process
Redesigning the executive procedures

Table 3: Main classes.

Second step: Axial codification

Axial codification is the second stage of analysis in grounded theory. This stage aims to relate generated categories to each other (in open codification stage). This is done based on paradigm model, and helps theorists to perform the theory process easily [Figure 2]. The foundation of making relationship in axial codification is based on the expansion of one of the categories.

Third step: Theorization stage (Selective codification)

As mentioned before, the aim of grounded theory is to generate theory and not just to describe the phenomenon. In order to turn the analyses into theory, the categories should be persistently related to each other. Selective codification is based on the results of (two preceding stages of codification) the main stage of the theory. That is, selective codification systematically relates core category to other categories, develops those relationships into a single storyline, and modifies those categories which need more improvement and development. In this stage, the researchers, based on their understanding of the context or paradigm model, develops a storyline or modifies the paradigm model and draws the final theory.


The model obtained in this study, to be shown in following sections, provides mechanisms which will shape the efficient policies of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Organization [Figure 3].

In following table [Table 4], researchers compare the elements of research`s model with literature.

Elements of policy model in IRIB Literature
Prior conditions: designing competitive thinking mechanisms 1.Attracting audience
2.Competitive thinking
3.Long-term approach
4.Interaction with stakeholders
Media are in competitive environment [2]
Decreasing trend of policy transparency it has been in these years (Mac chancy ، 2004)
The major phenomenon (elite-centered): designing legal mechanisms:
1.Reforming the regulations
2.The essentiality of relationship between the IRIB and the Islamic Consultative 3.Assembly
 Decreasing Legislation in field of media policy
The government sector in the field of legislation is very active[18]
Discussion about media policy without discussion about intervention of government is not true [19]
The dominant theme: designing political mechanisms
1.Avoiding politicization
2.Interaction with macro-policies of IRIB
3.Interaction with the supreme Council of Cultural Revolution
Designing cultural mechanisms
1.Supreme Leader’s policies
2.Media and the values
3.Interaction between the IRIB and IRIB’s general values
Political and cultural goals are very important in media  policy [2]
Ideological element in media policy process is important [7]
Political bias play main role in media policy process [9]
Ideological schools are effective in policy making for media (peck and tickle,2002).
Interfering conditions:
Planning research and professional mechanisms
1.Interaction between the Media and the University
2.Understanding the need for specialists
Designing regulatory mechanisms 1.Highlighting the role of the regulatory council
2.Promoting supervision system
Government are active to monitoring media [20]
Media policy process increasingly use research [14]
Emerging use of scientific research in media policy
Approaches: designing management mechanisms
1.The level of authority of middle managers
2.One-dimensional views
3.Expansion of the range of policy makers
4.The highlighted role of the head of the organization
Governance in media is by government [21]
Importance of management in media [22]
Consequences: designing efficient policies
1.Procedural legitimacy
2.Conceptualization of the necessity of policymaking
3.Preparing the organization for setting up policymaking process
4.Redesigning the executive procedures
Policy making in information and communication and  [3]system is necessary as economic factor policy in media is essential[2]

Table4: Comparison of model elements with literature.


As shown in the above model, the formation of competitive thinking at the higher managerial levels of IRIB Organization would result in understanding of the need for policymaking process by the managers at the higher levels of the IRIB organization. This should be taken into consideration that without providing appropriate mechanism for competitive thoughts in the IRIB organization, the management would not be able to develop policies that are consistent with competitive environment shaped for the media. In addition, it is essential that legal mechanisms provide necessary requirements for shaping policymaking process in the IRIB organization. The provisions of the IRIB organization have not been undergone any changes since 1981; therefore, the organization is faced with serious challenges in terms of rules. The improvement in the regulations will result in modification in managerial mechanisms of the IRIB organization. The head of the IRIB organization, having special authorities, has unlimited power and is not accountable to other cultural agencies of the country, including Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution. Moderating the authorities of the head of the IRIB organization in order to have him accountable to other agencies would be a positive step in effective implementation of macro-policies of the country. Modification of regulatory mechanisms would be an influential factor in efficient implementation of policies. Inter-organizational monitoring and evaluation systems can operate more independently if being excluded from the planning deputy coverage. Moreover, by improving the regulations related to the authorities of regulatory council, this council would leave its superficial status, and so more effective external supervisions would be provided. Utilization of the data obtained from researches conducted inside and outside of the IRIB organization will result in shaping data driven policies that make the process more rational. As the IRIB organization has more sensitive and influential role in the society, in comparison with other organizations, different political groups attempt to penetrate into it. Therefore, the modification in political mechanisms influencing the IRIB organization is one of the essential requirements for making modification to executive and management structures of the IRIB organization. Indexing policies announced by the supreme leader will cause cultural and moral policies to be organized and executed more properly. In this way, the IRIB will achieve its objective which is becoming a media that propagates values of Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore, the road to achieve efficient policies in the IRIB organization will be paved.

Based on this model, it is required that IRIB considers the following contents of this research:

In the first place, the Islamic Consultative Assembly is required to modify and review the traditional rules followed by the IRIB. Developing new regulation in which independent status and authorities of Regulatory Council are recognized would be a significant step to develop efficient policies in the IRIB organization (Based on conceptual codes: the role of regulations at the core of policymaking, lack of transparency of the regulations of the organization, developing a regulation to establish a policy council.)

In order to shape an efficient and effective system, the authorities of regulatory council should be defined transparently. The supervision should get out of its mere information provider shape, and regulatory council should be granted legal authority to pursue the organization’s deviations from policies (regarding conceptual codes: regulatory mechanisms of regulatory council, the essentiality of transparent regulations which determine the authority of regulatory council, enhancing monitoring and evaluation systems, monitoring the execution of policies, the essentiality of independent monitoring and evaluation center, allocating budget for a regulatory process.)

Person-centered policymaking in organization should be eliminated. The policies should be made beyond the level of IRIB via external proficient individuals and agencies (based on conceptual codes: controlling unlimited powers of the head of the organization, expanding the range of policy makers, exploiting external specialists in policy council, influence of management changes on implementation of policies, influence of the head’s characteristics.)

The planning and evaluation deputy of the organization turns the policies determined by the supreme leader into planning propositions, and sets indexes to them. A mechanism should be proposed, based on those indexes, to identify how many of policies have been accomplished and how many of them have not been carried out, per year (based on conceptual codes: macro-policies through the Leader, mechanisms for implementation of the Leader’s policies, Leader though room organization, the essentiality of creating regulatory mechanism by leader.)

Political mechanisms governing the organization should be made transparent via exercising strict external supervisions to prevent it from looking at the current issues and tendencies of the society unilaterally. The management attempts to absorb a broad range of political tendencies to the National Media (based on conceptual codes: the necessity for interaction with political pressures, the permeability of policymaking process, politicization of policy makers, avoiding one-dimensional views.)

Council of deputies of the organization should develop the executive policies, and leave the macro-policies to be made by policy council. As the members of policy council are mostly from outside of the organization, they would have wider views on the environment of the IRIB, and so it is better to entrust the development of the more abstract policies to this council, and of the executive policies to the council of deputies.

The mechanism required for scholars to attend in the policy council should be provided by the Training and Research Deputy of Organization (the policies should be based on the data). The Training and Research Deputy should pursue a more proactive approach and deliver more political propositions to Deputy Council to be set (based on conceptual codes: understanding the necessity to exploit external specialists, employing researches’ findings in policymaking process.)

The policies of the organization should be made in accordance with the macro-policies of Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution. Considering that the IRIB is known as a cultural agency, the development of policies of the organization should comply with the policies of Supreme Council in order to achieve integrated cultural policies in the country (based on conceptual codes: the essentiality of institutional relationships with the Supreme Council, compliance of the organization’s policies with the country’s general policies, complying the Isla.


We should thanks university of Tehran for financial assistance in conducting this study also thanks managers of IRIB for coordinate to apply this article. Also thanks professors of management department (university of Tehran).


1. Governmental media in Iran

2. Personal interview with a senior managers of IRIB and media experts

3. Interviews takes time more than 3 month because managers did not have enough time to interview

4. Thanks of university of Tehran for financial assistance in conducting this study


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Figure 1: Elements of a national communications policy [5].

Figure 2: Axial Codification.

Figure 3: Policy model in IRIB.

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