The Iranian government has frequently jammed international satellite broadcasts of western media into the country, most recently blocking BBC and VOA Persian broadcasts of currency protests in Tehran.
But on Monday, it was not the Iranian government but European satellite provider, EutelSat, which claimed responsibility for 19 Iranian state-run television and radio stations abruptly going dark.
“Viewers in the Middle East, Iran’s main cornerstone of influence, and Europe as well as those inside Iran who accessed the channels through the popular Hotbird satellite no longer have access to the channels,” the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday:
Eutelsat Communications said it stopped broadcasting the Iranian channels in light of European sanctions approved in March and a French regulatory decision. …
Though Eutelsat’s decision to remove Iran’s government-owned channels isn’t related to the nuclear standoff, the move serves to isolate the Islamist Republic further.
IRIB condemned the ban, saying it came from political pressure from “U.S. and Zionists” to block the truth about Islamic movements in the Middle East. The broadcaster said that the ban violated freedom of speech and that Iran would pursue legal action. It didn’t say where. …
In explaining their move, Eutelsat also noted that the EU added IRIB Director Ezzatollah Zarghami to its sanctions list in March. They further said France’s broadcasting regulator recently upheld a 2005 ruling demanding the removal of the IRIB channel Sahar 1 due to anti-Semitic broadcasting
(Photo: An employee of PRESS TV, Iran’s 24-hour English language satellite news channel, works in the newsroom at its Tehran headquarters July 9, 2007. PRESS TV officials have said the channel would seek to take on established players like CNN and BBC World. REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN)