TEHRAN (AFP) — A new national newspaper, the "Khorshid" or "Sun", hit the newsstands on Saturday, published by an aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Like its mass-circulation British namesake, the full colour daily will cover all topics from political issues to sport and soap opera.
The centrefold of Khorshid is a picture illustrating a current news story.
Initial circulation is targeted at 200,000, which publisher Mohammad Paryab hopes to build up later.
Khorshid, whose launch has been expected for a few months, has gone on sale only eight months before the country's next presidential elections, prompting speculation it might serve as a campaign tool for the re-election of Ahmadinejad.
Paryab denied the talk. "No, the government has other platforms and as you can see there is only one page about political news in Khorshid, so it is not useful for that purpose," he told AFP.
"If we wanted to do that, we would have allocated 10 to 12 pages of the 24-page newspaper for political news," said Paryab, who used to be deputy government spokesman and secretary of the presidency information council.
The front page of the paper carries a picture of a newspaper boy offering copies to a crowd.
Selling for 1,000 rials or nearly a dollar, Khorshid tackles social, economic and cultural topics. It is financed by the state-run social security organisation which, according to Paryab, insures around 28 million or 45 percent of the Iranian population.
The first issue is adorned with pictures from Friday's Tehran derby football match between Pirouzi and Esteghlal which drew around 100,000 spectators to the capital's biggest stadium.
Pollution in major cities, children laws, and elderly life are covered in social pages and the cultural pages touch upon films and music as well as Iranian television soap operas.
Under Ahmadinejad, Iranian media of all political persuasions -- newspapers, news web sites on the Internet and agencies -- have been hit by a string of closures.
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