Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot is not prepared to donate money from government funds to set-up a satellite TV station to provide Iran with independent news. Left wing Greens (GroenLinks) MP Farah Karimi, who was born born in Iran and has been pressing for such a station, says she is extremely disappointed that Bot will not subsidise a TV channel. She said the House had specifically urged this. However, in a letter to the Lower House Mr Bot said he is prepared to fund an independent radio station and two Internet newspapers, as well as a number of other projects.
Under pressure from the Lower House, Bot decided last June to allocate a maximum of 15 million euros to stimulate the Iranian media. A total of 48 project proposals were since received from 37 organisations. Bot cannot make public the names of organisations, the submitted proposals and other confidential information because of the “strong interest in preserving anonymity”, he told the Lower House.
In allocating the subsidies, Bot decided “to finance only the project proposals” which satisfied quality standards. In total, he is subsidising “one independent radio station, two Internet magazines that are each focussed on a specific theme (democracy and women), and one project concerned with children’s rights and media. Also receiving funds are a further seven projects which cover various media and will focus on training and furthering the abilities of Iranian journalists”.
As Bot states, the projects will be implemented by “reputable organisations” in the field of free media. He believes “these activities aim to have a lasting impact on journalism in Iran”. A total of 14.636.000 euros has been appropriated.