International News Channels Decry Middle East Satellite Jamming

BBC Logo Black White - H 2011

BBC Logo Black White - H 2011

Iran is believed to be behind the deliberate blocking of Western news broadcasts to the region.

COLOGNE, Germany – International news broadcasters, including the BBC, Voice of America and Germany's Deutsche Welle, have condemned what they say is the deliberate jamming of their television and radio news broadcasts to the Middle East.

Deutsche Welle, a German state broadcaster which transmits Arabic-language news and features via satellite to the region, has said Iran is behind the jamming. Earlier this week, satellite operator Eutelsat dropped Iranian state-owned channels from its popular Hotbird service, citing Tehran's alleged blocking of news signals and EU sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

BBC services affected by the jamming include BBC World News and BBC's Arabic language TV channels as well as BBC's World Service radio broadcasts in English and Arabic.

Deliberate interference such as the jamming of transmissions is a blatant violation of international regulations concerning the use of satellites,” a BBC spokesperson said. “We strongly condemn any practice designed to disrupt audiences’ free access to news and information."

The BBC, however, did not name Iran as the source of the jamming.

Eutelsat said the latest jamming attack was coordinated out of Syria. Iran is a staunch supporter of the Syrian regime.

Deutsche Welle director general Erik Bettermann called the jamming an act of censorship by the Iranian government and said the German channel was joining with other international broadcasters to issue a protest resolution.