Voice of America Seeks Farsi Language 'Hollywood News' TV Show to Air in Iran
7:37 AM, Jan 10, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America is seeking someone to produce a TV entertainment show to be broadcast in Iran in the Farsi language that includes "Hollywood news" and "other interesting aspects of life on the West Coast of the United States." The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose board members include Secretary of State John Kerry, is looking for a contractor to produce a "weekly entertainment show that must be aesthetically and musically appealing to VOA’s [Voice of America] audiences in Iran."
The description of the desired program sounds like an Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood type show:
Despite (or because of) the pop-culture subject matter, potential contractors are cautioned to keep the target country's "sensitivities" in mind:
According to the BBG, the agency has produced similar programs in-house in the past, but is now looking for a "turnkey" product ready to air within 45 days of the contract award. The amount of the contract will not be determined until potential producers have submitted 10-minute pilot episodes and price proposals for thirteen full 28-minute episodes. The deadline for responses is January 13.
The State Department declined to comment about whether or not such a program would enhance its diplomatic efforts in Iran, but rather deferred to the BBG for comment. The BBG responded to a similar request for comment with the following from the public relations office of the VOA:
A similar solicitation had been issued by the BBG in 2012, but was subsequently withdrawn on May 31, 2013, "[d]ue to a change in Agency's needs." That same day, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions against Iran targeting "the Iranian Petrochemical Industry as well as the Iranian Regime’s Attempts to Evade Sanctions and Support Terrorism." Less than five months later, the new solicitation was issued just days before the announcement of the late October meeting in Vienna between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany to discuss Iran's nuclear program.
When asked if decisions to cancel the initial solicitation and then later reissue it were in any way connected to the Treasury Department's May 31 sanctions or the October Vienna meeting with Iran, the BBG spokesperson responded, "No."
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