Iran looks to widen reach with Spanish TV network

HispanTV had a trial 16-hour daily broadcast since Oct. 2011, but fully launched into its 24-hour format on Jan. 31, 2011. HispanTV press release

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's president on Tuesday lauded his country's newly launched Spanish-language satellite TV channel, saying it would deal a blow to "dominance seekers," remarks that were an apparent jab at the U.S. and the West.

The launch is Tehran's latest effort to reach out to friendly governments in Latin America and follows Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's four-nation tour of the region earlier in January, which included stops in Cuba and visits to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

It also comes as Washington and Europe have imposed tougher sanctions on Tehran over its controversial nuclear program. The EU last week imposed an oil embargo against Iran and froze the assets of its central bank. In December, the United States said it would bar financial institutions from the U.S. market if they do business with Iran's central bank.

Iran's broadcasting company said Hispan TV, the first Spanish-language channel airing from the Middle East, will broadcast news, documentaries, movies and Iranian films 24 hours a day.

Iran's state TV said the channel, which had been on air on a trial basis since October with a 16-hour daily program, will target millions of Spanish-speaking people throughout the world.

"The new channel will limit the ground for supremacy of dominance seekers," Ahmadinejad said during a Tehran ceremony marking the inauguration. "It will be a means for better ties between people and governments of Iran and Spanish-speaking nations."

Ahmadinejad ended his speech in Spanish: "Viva la Paz! Viva el Pueblo! Viva America Latina!"

Iran broadcasts daily in five other foreign languages, including in English through state-run Press TV and in Arabic via Al-Alam TV.

The West suspects Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, a charge that Tehran denies, insisting its atomic program is only for peaceful purposes such as power generation.

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