Senators To Introduce Legislation To Help Media Report Iran Story

Bill would increase funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Farsi radio stations and VOA's Persian News Network

The Senate wants to help new and old media get the Iran story to the world in spite of that regime's crackdown on news of the ongoing violence there.

It wasn't clear how they were going to do it, but three Senators Friday pledged to introduce legislation after the July 4 break to "expand television and radio broadcasting into Iran and prevent the Iranian regime from slamming shut the virtual door to the rest of the world provided by the Internet."

The bill, announced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would increase funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Farsi radio stations and VOA's Persian News Network.

But according to an announcement of the bill from the three senators it will also "provide the Iranian people with access to other information technologies to ensure Iranians access to the Internet, including social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and cellular phone networks."

It is unclear how they would get around Internet monitoring and blocking going on in Iran. Spokesfolk for the senators had not returned calls for comment at press time.

President Obama has twice in the past week given a shout-out to the role of cell phones and Internet access in getting out the story on the post-election violence in Iran, a role that has grown in importance with the crackdown on outside media.

“In the weeks ahead we look forward to working with our colleagues on developing legislation to help ensure the Iranian people can get access to the unbiased, uncensored news, information, and communications technologies that they obviously want and that the Iranian regime so obviously wants to deny them,” said McCain in a statement.

The Senate exits June 26 and won't return for new business until July 6.