In Iran, what's forbidden is in -- and on Rupert Murdoch's Farsi1 TV channel
Washington Post / Thomas Erdbrink

Sporadic action is being taken. On Wednesday, police raided several apartment buildings in an affluent Tehran neighborhood, confiscating dozens of dishes. Some elderly women in one building's lobby protested, saying they wanted to watch Farsi1, and ended up at a friend's house nearby to catch "Body of Desire."

Some Iranians blame the state channels for the exodus of viewers, saying they should make more appealing shows. "The root of the attraction of viewers to Farsi1 is the weakness of the domestic channels," Esmaeel Afifeh, a TV producer, told Panjareh.

Before the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a year ago, Iranian state television seemed to have modernized in some ways. It broadcast debates between the candidates -- a first in Iran -- but had also started showing popular homegrown comedies and soaps. After the election, which led to months of unrest and increased influence for hard-liners, the lighter material gave way to broadcasts of mass trials of dissidents and long interviews with government supporters.

Many urban Iranians -- Maryam and her family among them -- say they no longer feel the state channels speak to them.

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