Iran retaliates to sat-ban
Iran is not having a good week. Its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is increasingly sidelined, and it has seen much of its powerful overseas television influence severely diminished. Now, its parliament is proposing an urgent review of its satellite strategy, and to urgently build its own satellite. Buying a satellite would be extremely difficult given the various prohibitions that Iran would be facing.
On October 23rd Iran’s National Security Committee held a meeting to review what short term, medium term and longer term strategies were available to the nation. The head of Iran’s state-backed IRIB national TV, Ezzatollah Zarghami, attended the meeting, and said the country needed its own satellite.
The TV crisis has also meant that the door has been closed on European Union member states to Iran’s 19th International Press & News Agencies trade fair and exhibition scheduled for Tehran next week on October 30th. The EU toughened its economic sanctions against Iran last week.
Iran has also increased its deliberate jamming of ‘western’ TV channels, with the BBC, France 24, Voice of America and others suffering interference. Deliberate jamming is banned by the International Telecommunications Union, and Eutelsat, which has suffered from considerable jamming, is formally complaining via its French representatives, to the ITU and to other regulatory entities about signal jamming.
Eutelsat took its action to take down some 19 IRIB TV and radio channels on the morning of October 15th and took its decision in relation to tougher EU sanctions against Iran issued back in March 2012, and supported by a French regulatory decision. IRIB’s head, Ezzatollah Zarghami, is also a ‘sanctioned’ individual according to the EU. Later on October 15th the EU itself toughened its own regulations against Iran. IRIB has been accused of being an integral arm of Iranian intelligence by a New York-based human rights organisation.
Intelsat has also reportedly removed the IRIB cluster of channels from its satellite over the region.