Saturday, December 26, 2009

BBC Farsi Disrupted Across the Globe

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Rooz Online English

Iran has stepped up its efforts to jam satellite signals for television channels in addition to radio networks. In this connection, a new jamming technology caused BBC Farsi viewers across the globe, from Tehran to New York, to be unable to receive transmissions in the past four days. Satellite jamming was a controversial issue during post-election events as well. At that time the government attempted to disrupt satellite broadcasts covering the protests across Iran, while on the other hand the media reported that the jamming signals endangered public health, causing various illnesses and disorders. The health controversy became so heated that it enticed the eighth Majlis to enter the discussion, summoning government officials for explanations. The communications minister, however, denied the allegations and announced that his ministry has no information of or role in the issue. Other government institutions also refused to take responsibility for the issue. It was never revealed which agency or institution is in charge of sending the damaging jamming signals. Following the recent presidential election, the Islamic republic of Iran has launched a new jamming technology, which prevents satellite networks from sending their signals to their destinations, disrupting the communication flow prior to the receipt of signals.

As a result, the targeted network becomes unavailable across the globe. This happened to BBC Farsi television network during the past four days, preventing any of the network’s viewers from receiving the satellite signals. The Islamic republic has acquired this new technology, estimated by experts to have cost millions of dollars, while it is not clear how or from what source the funding has been issued. The sheer volume of signals sent to jam BBC Farsi’s frequency has caused disruptions even in other channels, including the famous and popular “Discovery” channel, which has been unable to broadcast its programs. In response, the Hot Bird satellite network was forced to pull off BBC Farsi from the network. The BBC World Service issued a statement yesterday emphasizing that signal jams and disruptions will not affect the network’s determination to continue its broadcast and announcing plans to broadcast BBC Farsi on Nilesat and Astrasat satellite network. The statement reads, “Continued disruption of the BBC Farsi television broadcast began shortly after the death of ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, a dissident Iranian cleric.” The jamming of BBC Farsi’s signals began on Sunday, December 20, targeting Hot Bird 6’s satellite network, which is used by several BBC international television and radio channels in various languages, as well as several other news networks.