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Iran draws ire for blocking satellite broadcasts

ITU criticises Iran for illegal blocking of news broadcasts from French satellite operator.

Iran has drawn criticism from the ITU for blocking satellite transmissions from Eutelsat.
Iran has drawn criticism from the ITU for blocking satellite transmissions from Eutelsat.

The International Telecommunication Union has urged Iran to stop its illegal blocking and interference of satellite broadcasts from French satellite company Eutelsat.

The development followed complaints from Eutelsat to French authorities and the ITU during the past 10 months that transmissions from its satellites including BBC Persian, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America were "the target of repeated and deliberate jamming operations".

The ITU said in a statement that after looking at evidence provided by Eutelsat, it had concluded that the satellite operator had been targeted by interference that "appeared to be emanating from the territory of Iran" and noted that "the interfering signals appear to be of a nature that is prohibited under Radio Regulations No. 15.1".

The ITU used the statement to urge the Iranian government to "continue its effort in locating the source of interference and to eliminate it as a matter of the highest priority."

Eutelsat said that it had managed to broadcast BBC Persian and Voice of America without interruption since the beginning of March, but only because it had started to duplicate transmissions from alternative satellites, HOT BIRDTM 8 and W3A.

Eutelsat made its first complaint to the ANFR (Agence Nationale des Fréquences Française) in May 2009, followed by a complaint to the Radio Regulations Board of the ITU.

The illegal blocking of the transmissions also prompted a joint initiative this month by the French, British and German Ministers of Foreign Affairs, who called on all European Union Member States to adopt a declaration denouncing the jamming operations.

Iranian authorities have staged a clampdown on foreign media since president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad maintained power in last June's disputed elections.

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