19 Iranian Channels taken Off Air By Intelsat on US order

JNN 22 Oct 2012 Brussels : The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) has taken a number of Iranian channels off the air in Europe based on an order by the United States.

The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has ordered the international broadcast services provider to shut down the Iranian channels, including Sahar, Jam-e-Jam, Islamic Republic of Iran News Network and al-Kowsar.

Press TV was not included in the list of the channels that have been removed.

However, the EU later told Press TV that Eutelsat had taken the decision on its own. Press TV has learned that Israeli lobbies have stepped up their pressure on international satellite companies to ban Iranian channels.

One of Europe’s leading satellite providers on Monday said it would terminate its contract with Iran’s broadcast company, IRIB, immediately pulling 19 state-owned television and radio channels off the air. saying that the decision was made by the European Union.

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.

Eutelsat Communications SA ETL.FR +0.52% said it stopped broadcasting the Iranian channels in light of European sanctions approved in March and a French regulatory decision. The move comes a little over a week after Iran escalated the jamming of Eutelsat satellites to censor broadcasts during recent protests over a plunge in the local currency.

The announcement came as the European Union on Monday approved new sanctions on Iran targeting financial institutions, trade, energy and shipping to urge Tehran to comply with its international obligations on its nuclear program. That was the latest effort by the bloc to bring Iran back to negotiations after a half-year of deadlocked talks. It was not those Monday sanctions that led to Eutelsat’s decision.

It also emerged Monday that the U.S. and the EU are looking to close loopholes in sanctions designed to impede Iran’s oil exports after they discovered that Tehran is secretly using offshore tax havens to help ship its crude.

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.

For years, IRIB has rented space on the popular Eutelsat satellite through Arqiva Ltd., a U.K.-based transmission company and middleman. Both companies said Monday they were suspending the Hotbird contract with Iran.

Eutelsat is also planning to remove IRIB from other satellites it owns, a spokeswoman for the French company said, and has notified other transmission companies that rent space to IRIB on Eutelsat satellites apart from Hotbird.

Other Western satellite companies, including Intelsat SA and Telesat Holdings Inc., still carry IRIB’s channels.

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.

Iranian human-rights organizations and opposition activists praised Eutelsat’s decision. For years, rights groups have lobbied satellite companies to drop Iran’s government channels, charging that they were propaganda tools of the regime and tools of repression and fear.

Iran’s use of Western satellite companies for censorship and jamming of radio and TV frequencies was a subject of a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2011. In a 14-page confidential report viewed by the Journal, IRIB’s research and policy center issued orders to news and talk shows to show President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government in a favorable light and to make Iran appear to have the upper hand in nuclear talks with the West.

The Islamic Republic openly uses its state media, particularly television and radio, to spread its message and propaganda both domestically and internationally, say human-rights groups. Since the Arab Spring began, Iran has broadcast events in Syria and Egypt to show the facts relating to the Foreign Interventions and the Interest of the US and the West of Implanting their stooges governments so they can rule , these countries with their Help.

While on the other hand the US and the UK Governments are also trying to instigate unrest in Iran by Negative Propaganda in their satellite transmissions in the local Persian language , namely Voice of America’s Persian service and BBC Persian.

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