Launched in Feburary of 2003, Al-Alam (The World) is a 24-hour Arabic-language news network, owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation (IRIB). In addition to reaching viewers in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia Pacific and North America, a powerful transmitter near the border of Iraq in Iran allows Iraqi viewers to view the network as a terrestrial channel. The network was launched during a strategically sensitive time, a month before the US invasion of Iraq and before pan-Arab networks such as Al-Jazeera existed. In 2004, Al-Alam’s website went live, providing content in Arabic, Farsi, and English.
With a bureau in Tehran, the network has three other offices in Beirut, Baghdad, and Damascus, and correspondents in various other countries. Al-Alam’s news and programming center is based in Beirut, with primarily Lebanese staff. The channel’s managing director Hasan Beheshtipour said that the purpose of the network is to present the viewpoints of the Islamic world and “counter the monopolization of news channels by Western countries.” For example, Al-Alam opposed the US invasion of Iraq, but was also against the ruling Ba’ath party. News bulletins give extensive coverage to the Middle East, particularly Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and Iraq. “Speed, accuracy, and precision” is the network’s slogan.
In 2011, Al-Alam’s English-language sister network Press TV accused Saudis of jamming Al-Alam’s networks across the Middle East and North Africa, after the network began covering anti-government protests in Bahrain.
On July 20th 2013, Egyptian police raided and shut down Al-Alam’s Cairo office and arrested the station’s Cairo bureau chief Ahmad al- Sioufi for reportedly operating without a license, although some speculate that the true reason for the raid was the network’s constant bolstering of pro-Morsi camps. Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini, responded that this raid harmed Tehran-Cairo ties.
Due to tightening US sanctions, many satellite companies stopped airing Al-Alam since 2012.