Iranian state TV earning ad revenue while broadcasting internationally

Radio Farda estimated that one channel can earn up to a hundred thousand dollars a year, and that number could continue to rise.

Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a campaign meeting at the Mosalla mosque in Tehran, Iran, May 16, 2017. Picture taken May 16, 2017.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a campaign meeting at the Mosalla mosque in Tehran, Iran, May 16, 2017. Picture taken May 16, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian state TV has been earning advertising revenue from YouTube content, according to Radio Farda.
State TV channels have also been able to garner a following internationally through social media and live broadcasts, as a Press TV director explained in an interview with the Iranian Fars News Agency.
The state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) owns and markets TV sitcoms and other programs for Persian speakers around the world, a report by the Shahrvand newspaper in Tehran said, according to Farda.
IRIB's entertainment channel iFilm has a YouTube channel with over 25,000 followers, according to the report. Videos uploaded on the channel have been viewed 15 million times as of late June.
Asr-e Jadid (The Modern Age), an IRIB talent show, has 10,000 followers on YouTube and has been viewed over three million times.
The programs available on YouTube are free to view, but IRIB reportedly receives a share of the advertising revenues.
Other Iranian media companies, such as Rasaneh Novin (Modern Media), also earn money on YouTube. Some of them present Iranian TV on their YouTube channels by leaving out credits and information about producers, according to Radio Farda.
Advertising fees are usually calculated based on the number of views, monthly views, number of clicks and other factors.
According to estimates by Shahrvand, every episode of the Modern Age show can earn up to $22,000 in advertising revenue. Radio Farda estimated that the channel can earn up to a hundred thousand dollars a year, and that number could continue to rise.
The Modern Age channel is registered in Austria and links to another channel with children's cartoons in Persian called DirinDirin.
It is unclear how US sanctions could affect this source of revenue for Iranian state TV. Shahrvand reported that managers of the channel located outside of Iran can still claim the advertising money, even though YouTube and Google are under US law. The Iranian state TV's YouTube channels are officially based outside of Iran.
The Modern Age channel is officially based in Austria, while iFilm is registered in Iran – although it is well known, according to Radio Farda, that all iFilm content is aired and uploaded from the Sa'adat Abad neighborhood in northern Tehran.
In April, Google blocked access to the YouTube and Gmail accounts of Iranian state broadcasters Press TV and Hispan TV, according to Forbes. Press TV claimed that Google blocked access "without prior notice" and that they had received a message telling them that their "Google Account was disabled and can't be restored because it was used in a way that violates Google's policies."
Press TV and Hispan TV's YouTube channels are still open, but no new content can be uploaded.
Facebook also shut down multiple Iran-sponsored groups and accounts in April, saying that "the pages routinely amplified Iranian state narratives, targeting Israel, the United States, and Saudi Arabia, especially for their roles in the Middle East, and focusing on the Yemen and Palestine conflicts. The pages often shared articles from websites which reproduced, verbatim, content from Iranian state or state-allied outlets, such as Press TV." 
Press TV currently broadcasts from Washington, New York, London, Beirut and Damascus, and is planning broadcasts in Egypt and Palestine, a network administrator told Fars.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always been the main source of support for the oppressed," said Habib Abdul Hussein director of Press TV's website and social networks. "This is our main theme."
Hussein pointed out Press TV's coverage of the oil tanker attacks earlier this month and in May. "If you look at the issue of the tankers, we loaded a video on Twitter that broke the record of Iranian media coverage and all the media in the Muslim world. 2.5 million times," said Hussein.
The Press TV director also stressed that the agency's budget is a small fraction of the budget of international media, and that it is still able to combat other narratives from external media. 
Hussein used Press TV's coverage of the felling of a US drone earlier this month as an example of its foreign influence. While the US has stated that the drone was shot down over international waters, the Iranian narrative says that the drone was flying in Iranian airspace. Hussein told Fars that he felt that they had been successful in conveying the Iranian narrative to the rest of the world.
To illustrate Press TV's international reach, Hussein mentioned that they have 178,000 followers on Twitter and yet were able to get 2.5 million views on posts. 
In the interview with Fars, Hussein also mentioned that Press TV is not well known within Iran, because the agency is focused on defending Iran's narrative internationally.
YouTube is officially banned within Iran and only well connected companies are allowed to benefit from the video streaming service.