Introduction

Political parties do not exist in Iran. In this situation the media, particularly the newspapers, have assumed a central role in the political life of the country. Almost all of them are controlled by organs of the State or political factions that have become the actors of the debates and the conflicts inside the regime after the elimination, in the first years after the revolution, of the secular and Marxist groups that had fought the monarchic regime.The most important political fronts can be summed up roughly as follows: the Left, in power during the first ten years of the Islamic Republic. It is from this front that the reformist camp was born at the end of the 1990s. On the opposite side there was the Right, from which the conservative camp of today was born. The Pragmatists were to be recognised as a new force as followers of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his government, after his election as president in 1989.

There are no accurate figures on circulation of the press in Iran, but their readers are generally limited to Tehran and the other big cities. This gives a dominant role to television for the diffusion of news to the population of smaller cities and rural areas. Together with those of the State television, stations based abroad - foreign and Iranian - are followed by millions of people, despite a ban on satellite dishes.

The role of websites, blogs and social media has become central for the dissemination of news and comments during the last ten years, particularly after the protests against the reelection of President Ahmadinejad in 2009, when they were among the main tools used to organise street demonstrations and inform the public opinion about the development of the crisis.

The presence of women in the media is very widespread, in line with the general trend of the society that sees their role expanding in many professional fields. More than half of the candidates that pass the very difficult admittance test to universities, the ‘Concours’, are female students.