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Two European TV Satellite Operators Drop Iranian State Channels Amid EU Sanctions

Iran had been reportedly jamming satellite signals carrying international news channels, including BBC Persia and Voice of America's Persia service.

COLOGNE, Germany - European satellite operators Eutelsat and service company Arqiva have stopped carrying Iranian channels on their popular Hotbird service after the European Union increased sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Both Eutelsat and Arqiva said they have stopped all broadcasts of radio and television channels operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) including the Sahar 1 TV channel. The IRIB rents space on Eutelsat's Hotbird satellite through Arqiva, a U.K.-based transmission company and middleman. The 19 state-owned TV and radio channels were switched off Monday morning,  Eutelsat said.

France's broadcasting authority had earlier ruled that Sahar 1 should be permanently switched off, citing the channel's anti-Semitic programming. The European Union recently added IRIB boss Ezzattolah Zarghami to its list of sanctioned persons. The Hotbird satellite broadcasts to viewers in Europe and the Middle East, who now no longer have access to IRIB's channels. Eutelsat said it planned to also remove IRIB from the other satellites it owns. Other Western-owned satellite companies, including Intelsat and Telesat, still carry IRIB's channels.

The move by Eutelsat comes a little over a week after Iran reportedly escalated its electronic jamming of Eutelsat satellites aimed at blocking the broadcast of popular local-language Western news channels, such as BBC Persian and Voice of America's Persian service. Eutelsat has been calling for regulatory action to stop what it claims is government-backed jamming of its signals by Tehran since 2009.