[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adapted from website:] Mihan Novin

[Date:] 12 Mehr 1399 [3 October 2020]

 

The Day Television Came to Iran- The Devil’s Nest!

According to Mihan Novin’s website and quoting from the Hamshahri newspaper - Ali Anari: “We had an acquaintance, [a companion-sister], who was very religious. One day there was a religious mourning ceremony in our house. Earlier, my mother had said, because my companion-sister wants to come for the mourning ceremony, cover the TV so that she does not see it, otherwise she will not come in. Finally, we covered the TV with a bed sheet ...

 Mihan Novin further quoting from the Hamshahri newspaper - Ali Anari, “We had an acquaintance, [a companion-sister], who was very religious. One day there was a religious mourning ceremony in our house. Earlier, my mother had said, because my companion-sister wants to come for the mourning ceremony, cover the TV so that she does not see it, otherwise she will not come in. Finally, we covered the TV with a bed sheet and a blanket. The doorbell rang and the companion-sister entered the house. After the greetings, suddenly she turned pale and said she wanted to go. My mother asked the reason.

She pointed to the corner of the room where the TV was, and said, “I will not set foot in your house as long as this devil’s nest is here.” My mother said, “but we have covered it”. The companion-sister replied, “No, the lower part of it is still visible.” In short, we put all the quilts, mattresses, and blankets in the house on the TV so that no part of it would be visible.

We asked, “is it fine now?” The companion-sister said with the same simplicity: “No, its bottom part is still visible.” In short, we also covered the bases until the companion-sister finally was willing to enter our house. Gholam-Reza Haji Ghorbani Dulabi, a blogger and narrator of Old Tehran, tells the story of a pious old woman confronting the phenomenon of television, who could not even see the silent receiver in the corner of the room. This is considered to be the only moment when the traditional religious section of the Iranian society confronted with one of the most obvious modernity in the early 1340s [1960s].

Most people accepted the issue of television until the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty when, even in the homes of the most fanatic revolutionaries and anti-regime fighters there was at least one [TV] receiver. They did not see TV as what the companion-sister called it – the devil’s nest. The introduction of television in the homes of Iranians began in the mid-1930s [1950s], at a time when three decades had already passed since the Western world, or in other words, the United States and Europe had become familiar with the phenomenon of television. In those days leading up to the late 1950s, the problem of transmitters and receivers being able to present production programmes in colour to the audience, despite being the most important technological challenge facing the industry, was largely eliminated, and it was a long time since the television stations had shifted away from the black and white system to colour.

According to some sources, the first person who thought of introducing television to the Iranian community was a man named Kazerouni, a wealthy resident of Isfahan, who made first contact with international companies active in this field. But for a number of reasons, this eloquent Isfahani did not succeed because the launch of a TV station required substantial cost and special communications. Kazerouni could not even expect a positive response from the guards of the Marble Palace and was not considered a favourable option for taking over the leadership of such a great enterprise. But whatever he lacked, the owner of the Pepsi-Cola factory in Iran, who was rumoured to have a fortune equal to 10% of everything in Iran, was able to provide.

Habibollah Sabet, known as Sabet Pasal (derived from the combination of the names of “Sabet” trading companies in the United States and “Pasal” in Iran), a famous businessman and member of the Baha’i Assembly in Iran during the Pahlavi era, knew well to sell a product, understanding that the type of presentation is even more important than the quality of the product. He allegedly by presenting an artistic but in reality, a commercial show, won over its potential customers, and launched the first television transmitter in Iran.

Sabet, who saw the business potential in television and with cooperation of his son Iraj, brought a complete kit, including a camera and image player, from the United States to Iran. He organized a private show at the Marble Palace, in the presence of the person of Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi, which was broadcasted by a closed-circuit TV receiver. There and then, he obtained permission from the Shah to launch Iran’s first television transmitter.

The first day’s programmes included the broadcast of pictures of the Shah’s visit to Japan, the reading of the message of the then Prime Minister Manouchehr Eghbal and Amir Ghasem Eshraghi the Minister of Post, Telegraph and Telephone, as well as the speeches of Habibollah Sabet Pasal and his son Iraj, and finally it ended by broadcasting some plays and musical programmes. Iran TV started its work from this date by broadcasting 4 hours of programs per day—from 6 pm to 10 pm—including news, movies, documentaries, TV series, programmes for children, scientific programmes, as well as commercial and publicity advertisements. It remained in Pasal’s possession until 1348 [1969/1970] when with the establishment of the National Television Organization of Iran—it was handed over to the government at the behest of the Shah.