Broadcasters in the United States and Britain say the Iranian government has been jamming international satellite transmissions
into the country.
Television programs by VOA's Persian News Network and a number of radio broadcasts by U.S.-supported news organizations have been affected by the Iranian jamming. The interference has been aimed at a communications satellite system used by many
Iranian authorities have not responded to inquiries by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that oversees all U.S. government-supported civilian international broadcasting, including VOA.
However, engineers who regularly monitor satellite communications say Iran apparently is the source of the signal interference, which has blanketed a satellite system known as Hot Bird.
A BBG statement said its experts have determined that Iranian government jamming has been in effect at least since December 27. In addition to VOA's Persian network, the jamming has affected programs by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and
Radio Sawa, a U.S.-supported Arabic-language radio.
The BBG condemned the jamming and called it censorship aimed at interrupting the free flow of objective news and information to the Iranian people.
The BBC first reported last week that it had encountered jamming aimed at its Persian-language radio and television programs.
Iran's international isolation deepened yesterday when the regime banned contact with more than 60 highly regarded Western
organisations which it accused of conspiring against the Islamic Republic.
The list includes the BBC, Voice of America and other media organisations that beam Farsi-language programmes into Iran, as well as think-tanks, academic institutions and leading non-governmental organisations from America and Europe. Having
any relation ... with those groups involved in the soft war [against Iran] is illegal and prohibited, the intelligence ministry said. Citizens should be alert to the traps of our enemies and co-operate ... in neutralising the plots of
foreigners and conspirators.
The list includes Yale University, the Soros and Ford foundations, the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, the liberal Brookings Institution, Human Rights Watch and USAid. Some, but not all of the organisations, have worked with universities
or civil society institutions in Iran — bodies that tend to be hostile to the regime.
Four British organisations are named: the BBC, Wilton Park and Menas Associates, along with the British Centre for Democratic Studies — which appears not to exist.
The regime has repeatedly accused the BBC of being part of a British plot against it. It has expelled the organisation's Tehran correspondent and regularly jams the BBC Persian satellite television signal.
Update: European satellite company censors BBC's Persian TV
Iran is facing mounting international protests about its jamming of the BBC's Persian TV service (PTV) after the channel – which has millions of viewers and is hugely popular with opposition supporters – was taken off a satellite owned by Europe's
The BBC said today it was actively supporting a formal complaint to the International Telecommunication Union, a UN-affiliated body, about deliberate interference from Iran. The ITU confirmed it had received representations from
regulators in France, home to Eutelsat, owner of the Hotbird 6 satellite, which transmitted PTV until the end of last month.
The German state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, said it too would protest about interference with its Persian-language radio broadcasts. Voice of America Persian TV programmes have also been jammed.
The BBC said it was telling viewers how to adjust their satellite dishes to receive programmes via two other satellites that are out of range of Iranian jamming.
Eutelsat says PTV was removed from Hotbird 6 in agreement with the BBC, though sources close to the affair say the operator caved in to commercial and legal pressures from other customers broadcasting on the same transponder. Another
Eutelsat satellite, Hotbird 8, provides capacity to Iranian state media channels, including English-language Press TV, which has offices in London.
The European Union has called for Iran to stop censoring the Internet and jamming European satellite broadcasts.
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels have called for Iran to put an immediate end to its electronic interference - specifically jamming broadcasts coming from Europe.
Iran has been jamming foreign satellite broadcasts, including those from the BBC and VOA, since late last year. Ordinary Iranians also have problems accessing the Internet.
In a statement, the EU ministers said Iran is breaching freedom of expression commitments laid out in an international treaty it had signed.
But at a news conference, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton offered no details about what sanctions, if any, the bloc might impose. She said the specifics would be worked out later: We are very concerned about what is happening in terms of
broadcasting, said Catherine Ashton. We have not yet moved further forward in terms of what further actions to take. As you know, we remain very concerned about what is happening in Iran. And we remain very concerned to ensure the Security Council
debate is able to take forward the issues more broadly of what needs to happen next.
News channel France 24 accused Iran of blocking its website to users there, the latest in a series of international broadcasters to complain of censorship by the Islamic Republic.
France 24 learned today from various sources that its website france24.com was no longer accessible from Iranian territory, the French rolling news station said in a statement, describing the move as censorship .
The French satellite operator, Eutelsat, should share any policies and procedures it has in place explicitly to safeguard freedom
of expression when dealing with governments that systematically engage in censorship, Human Rights Watch said. It should also explain its decision to suspend certain Persian-language programming from its most popular satellite after Iranian
authorities began jamming its signals earlier this year.
In a letter sent to Eutelsat on June 25, 2010, Human Rights Watch repeated its requests for more information regarding the company's efforts to counter Iran's jamming of satellite signals carrying Persian-language broadcasts from BBC Persian TV
and Voice of America. Human Rights Watch sent an initial letter to Eutelsat on February 8 asking the company to explain its decision to suspend the programs from its popular Hotbird 6 satellite.
A follow-up letter with additional questions, including a request for information regarding Eutelsat policies and procedures in place to protect freedom of information, was sent to Eutelsat on March 17.
BBC Persia has been working with the BBC's Arabic TV service to broadcast rolling news from Egypt, and the broadcaster news coverage of events in Egypt.
This has prompted Iran to jam the channel since Thursday.
Many Iranian viewers claimed to have been watching events unfold in Cairo and elsewhere in the region extremely closely, the corporation said, and BBC Persian has vowed to continue its broadcasts to Iran and its coverage of the turmoil in Egypt.
Perhaps the Iranian authorities have something to fear. On Friday hundreds of thousands of Iranians chanted slogans supporting the Arab uprisings, while denouncing the United States, as they marched to mark the anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Egyptians, Tunisians, your uprisings are just and we are with you,
the crowds chanted.
In the midst of protests in Bahrain's capital of Manama that resulted in over 200 arrests and at least one death, evidence suggests that the government has clamped down on the Web, blocking access to specific YouTube pages and videos as well as,
possibly, video live-streaming site Bambuser.com.
In particular the blocked video appears to show police firing at unarmed protesters:
Iranian protestors gathered in Geneva, demanding the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, to take action on the Iranian government's illegal internet and communications censorship.
The protesters held placards demanding an end to the Iranian government's censorship and satellite jamming. The gathering drew the attention of attending diplomats to the widespread repression of freedom of speech and access to information.
In this rally, that was afforded protection by the Geneva police, participants demanded ITU members to act to the fullest extent of their legal capacity to stop the jamming of Persian-language satellites and eliminate censorship conducted by the
Iranian government under the banner of national internet .
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomed a new International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regulation requiring governments take necessary action to stop jamming of satellite broadcasts from within their jurisdiction.
The ITU and its member states should immediately start monitoring Iran's compliance with the new regulation and take any additional steps needed to ensure Iranian authorities stop interfering with satellite broadcasts, the Campaign added.
This is the first meaningful action taken by the ITU and the UN to make legal provisions to counter censorship of satellite programs within various countries, said Aliakbar Mousavi, former Iranian MP who served as deputy head of the
Parliamentary Telecommunications Committee.
The Campaign's spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi said:
The ITU has now made Iran's legal obligations perfectly clear. But the international community, including telecommunications corporations like Eutelsat, needs to sustain its efforts to make sure Iran stops jamming satellite broadcasts..