London, Asharq Al-Awsat—In a new phase of western sanctions on Iran, communications satellite service provider Intelsat took several Iranian channels off the air on Monday, including Press TV, Hispan TV and Al-Alam as well as IRIB 1 and 2 and Sahar TV.
Press TV had announced earlier that in a letter dated June 19, the Luxembourg based company said it will no longer provide services to Iranian channels, including Press TV, as of July 1. The reason given for the decision was that Intelset had to abide by US sanctions imposed on Iran’s state-run radio and TV company, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), and its president, Ezzatollah Zarghami.
“The US hatched different plots since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in order to prevent the message of the Revolution from being exported and counter the anti-arrogance thoughts of the Iranian nation,” Zargahmi said on Thursday.
This is not the first time that Iranian channels come under attack by European governments and satellite companies.
In November, the Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) also took Iranian channels off air in East Asia.
Earlier in October, Eutelsat SA and Intelsat SA stopped the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels, citing pressure by the European Union, though IRIB managed to resume broadcasts after striking deals with smaller companies based in other countries.
Protests by IRIB and other Iranian officials against the ban of Iranian channels come at the same time that the Iranian government continues to jam signals from European satellites into Iran, which began in 2009.
In October 2012, the European Union denounced Iran’s “deliberate jamming” of television and radio satellite broadcasts that deprive its citizens of access to free information, and called on Tehran to abide by global telecommunications laws.
“Since 2009, repeated waves of jamming have affected the signals of European satellites in the Middle East,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
“Such jamming, whose origin has been traced to Iran in particular, are hammering the broadcast of international media on Iranian territory.”
Among the affected broadcasters were Britain’s BBC Persian, France24, the US-funded Voice of America and Germany’s Deutsche Welle.
In an interview with IRIB news, a member of cultural commission at Iranian parliament, Bijan Nobaveh, has described the move to stop of the broadcast of Iranian TV channels as illegal, and said: “This is a biased and illogical move which came after the truth of international events was expressed by Iranian national media.”
“We are working on a bill, signed by 60 MPs, under which Iran’s ministry of culture will work to remove the obstacles for broadcasting Iranian channels through a coordination with independent news agencies and other institutions,” he added.