The inescapable history and politics of Anglo-Iranian relations: Audience engagement with BBC Persian on social media during the London 2012 Olympics

Alexander Voss, Marzieh Asgari-Targhi

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Abstract

This paper focuses on how Persian-speaking audiences engaged with the London 2012 Olympics via the social media platforms of the BBC Persian Service and in the interactive TV programme ‘Nobat-e Shoma’ (‘Your Turn’), which draws heavily on audience contributions. The paper demonstrates how Persian audiences reacted to Olympic sporting events through a highly politicised frame. They interpreted sporting events via the lens of Iran’s specific social, political and economic situation and its relationship with the UK in its role as the host
nation. The paper investigates the challenges that BBC Persian journalists face in their relationship with their audiences in Iran and in diaspora. These challenges are shaped by the fact that the BBC Persian Service is inextricably linked to the history of Anglo-Iranian relations. Persian audiences are often suspicious that the BBC’s ethos of impartiality is a smokescreen for covert manipulation. We explore the practical problems involved for the BBC Persian Service in upholding impartiality and ‘objective reporting’ while also being responsive to the political and cultural sensibilities of audiences and the often profound tensions that this creates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-576
Number of pages28
JournalParticipations: Journal of Audience Reception Studies
Volume12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Keywords

  • BBC Persian Service
  • Twitter
  • Social media and audience engagement
  • London Olympics 2012
  • Nobat-e Shoma (trans. 'Your Turn')

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