Television was introduced to Iran in 1958, when TVI (Television Iran) was established in Tehran as a privately owned and commercially operated monopoly, and granted a concession of five years, repeated by a second. A southern branch of Television Iran, based in Abadan, was established in 1960. Its programming included quiz shows and American programmes dubbed into Persian, and appealed to an unsophisticated audience. Habib Sabet, a Baha'i who was one of Iran's major industrialists, was the founder of the first television station.
A separate National Television Network (NITV), established in 1966, catered for a more educated public. TVI was nationalised in 1969, becoming a government monopoly which employed about 9,000 people by 1979. NITV was then merged with Radio Iran in 1972, forming the National Iran Radio and Television (NIRT). Full colour programming began in 1978, although the 1974 Asian Games had been broadcast in colour.
After the 1979 Islamic Revolution the NIRT continued to exist, but was renamed as "Seda va Sima-ye Jomhouri-e Eslami-ye Iran" (Voice and Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran), and known as the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) in English.
Despite being repeatedly jammed, the BBC Persian channel had a weekly audience of 7.2 million in 2011. GEM TV is one of the most popular satellite channels in Iran. Based in Dubai, it is broadcast illegally into the country. Farsi1, a satellite channel part owned by News Corporation broadcasting mostly comedies and dramas from other Asian countries and Latin America, is one of the most popular stations in the country.