Audience measurement organisations
There are no organisations in Iran that publish figures about audience measurement: an issue particularly sensitive from the political point of view, given that many platforms banned by the authorities, such as TV stations broadcasting from abroad and prohibited Internet sites and social media, can count in reality on a huge number of viewers and users. Some of this media organise their own private surveys, using illegal methods which results in uncertainty with regards to reliability. BBC Persian, for example, has relied on studies conducted by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a network owned by the U.S. government, to estimate the numbers of its viewers in Iran in the past years. Normally, to assess the audience in the country, the banned TV stations also count the number of ‘likes’ on their social media pages. In order to try to collect more precise data, the Annenberg School for Communication, at the University of Pennsylvania, has launched a project called Iran Media Program, with the goal to strengthen a global network of Iranian media scholars and practitioners and providing a more nuanced understanding of the role of media and the flow of information in Iran, including through survey research on media consumption.
More accurate data could be provided in the future by market research firms such as Ipsos, who have announced an expansion of their media monitoring activities in Iran after acquiring the Tehran-based market research company IPC. Monitoring of Iranian TV advertising is expected to start from the second quarter of 2017. Elie Aoun, regional CEO of the media measurement arm Ipsos Connect said: “Iran is going to be a big market, of course, it is growing exponentially, but the issue is that the market is still closed, so we don’t have a lot of clarity about this.”