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Teheran is jamming signals beamed down to it from Europe’s largest and most powerful television satellite, Germany’s Der Spiegel newsweekly reported on Wednesday.
The satellite, Hot Bird 8, carries the Farsi services of the Voice of America and the BBC. The jamming efforts also disrupt the satellite’s broadcasts beyond Iran’s borders, the newspaper said, adding that protests by the UN were likely to be wholly ineffective.
According to Ephraim Kam, deputy head of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, Iran views the broadcasts as part of a larger subversive conspiracy by Western powers to undermine the Iranian government.
“It’s convenient for them to point to external elements and distract attention away from the opposition,” Kam said.
Within Iran, too, the government has been active in arresting journalists who fail to toe the regime’s line, and blocking media content deemed too critical of government policy.
“During the June riots and afterward, the regime succeeded in preventing the opposition from becoming organized on a national level, partly by jamming internal communications,” noted Kam, who served as a colonel in the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
“National organization by the opposition, together with charismatic leadership, and determination to continue activities despite brutal measures to stop them, are the three factors needed for the opposition to succeed, and they have not yet fully materialized,” he added.
However, Kam said some content from outside Iran did manage to bypass these jamming efforts, though he couldn’t say what percentage of foreign broadcasts were getting through.
According to Der Spiegel
, Iran’s signal-blocking has not prevented
state broadcaster The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting from
transmitting its Press TV foreign service from the Hot Bird 8 satellite.
Israel Radio has been broadcasting Farsi-language programs to Iran on
short-wave radio since 1956. The radio station has received many calls
from ordinary Iranian citizens to discuss a wide variety of issues.
Menashe Amir, who ran the Israel Radio broadcasts between 1959 and
2007, is currently chief editor of the Foreign Ministry’s
Farsi-language Web site.
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