The BBC said today that the satellites it uses to broadcast in Persian were being jammed from Iran, disrupting its reports on the hotly-disputed presidential election. The corporation said television and radio services had been affected from 1245 UTC Friday onwards by “heavy electronic jamming” which had become “progressively worse”. Satellite technicians had traced the interference to Iran, it said.
The satellites its uses in the Middle East to broadcast BBC Persian television to Iran were being affected, meaning that audiences in Iran, the Middle East and Europe would likely experience disruption. BBC Arabic television and other language services had also experienced transmission problems, the corporation said.
“Any attempt to block BBC Persian television is wrong and against international treaties on satellite communication. Whoever is attempting the blocking should stop it now,” said BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks. “It seems to be part of a pattern of behaviour by the Iranian authorities to limit the reporting of the aftermath of the disputed election.
“In Tehran, (BBC world affairs editor) John Simpson and his cameraman were briefly arrested after they had filmed material for a piece,” he added. Iranian authorities today shut down the office of Arab news channel Al-Arabiya in Tehran for a week in the wake of the disputed election win by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the channel said.
Reporters Without Borders adds: The blocking of access to foreign news media has been stepped up. In addition to the blocking of the BBC’s website, the Farsi-language satellite broadcasts of the VOA and BBC – which are very popular in Iran – have been partially jammed. The Internet is now very slow, like the mobile phone network. YouTube and Facebook are hard to access and pro-reform sites such as Khordadeno, AftabNews and Ghalamesabz are completely inaccessible.
Andy Sennitt says: Two of the three sites mentioned above gave the message “bandwidth limit exceeded” when I checked at 1550 UTC, suggesting that DOS attacks may have been carried out.