Iran jamming satellite signals from U.S. and British broadcasts

Posted Dec 31, 2009 by Steven Z.K. Nickels
British and U.S. broadcasters say that Iran is jamming signals from a key communications satellite in an effort to keep news of opposition demonstrations from most Iranians.
A satellite dish garden in Salt Lake City
A satellite dish garden in Salt Lake City
U.S. and British broadcasters say that Iran is jamming signals from an international satellite that transmits signals into Iran from the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC's) Persian television service and the United States' Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts.
The VOA is reporting that the jamming effort is affecting a satellite system known as "Hot Bird," and is blocking the transmission of broadcasts of the VOA's Persian Network and Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and Radio Sawa, an Arabic-language radio broadcast. Technicians believe the VOA broadcasts have been affected since December 27.
The BBC's Persian television service first noticed "persistent interference" on December 20, according to a Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) report. That was soon after the BBC network began extended coverage of the death of the reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri. The jamming efforts affected other channels on the satellite transponder as well, including R1 and Yes Italia. The jamming resulted in the signal being unwatchable due to "picture break-ups and sound drop-outs," according to RNW.
To combat the jamming interference, RNW says the BBC began using an info card telling viewers to turn to Telstar 12 during the jamming. The BBC reports that now the jamming has appeared to have stopped for their broadcasts but they are looking at other satellites as a way to increase their broadcasts to Farsi-speaking Iranians.
RNW said a statement issued by the U.S. government's Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) criticized the jamming and said, As Iranian citizens once again demonstrate against the current government, Iran has stepped up its measures to ensure that the Iranian people are deprived of the international reaction, as well as of accurate news about the protests taking place in various cities in Iran.
It is widely accepted that Iran has the technical proficiency to disrupt a wide-range of communication networks, including broadcast, cell phone, satellite and Internet services within Iran.