BEIRUT

Middle East

BBC says broadcasts disrupted in Middle East

(Reuters/Andrew Winning/Files)

LONDON: The BBC said on Thursday that broadcasts had been disrupted in the Middle East and Europe, just weeks after its satellite transmission provider accused Iran of trying to jam U.S. and European programmes.

Britain's public broadcaster did not say who was interfering with the signal, but the company which transmits some of its programmes, Paris-based Eutelsat, said on Oct. 4 that Iran had been deliberately jamming satellite signals.

Eutelsat, one of Europe's leading satellite providers, said this week it had taken Iranian state television and radio channels off the air to comply with tougher EU sanctions on the Islamic state.

"The BBC, together with a number of other broadcasters, is experiencing deliberate, intermittent interference to its transmissions to audiences in Europe and the Middle East," the BBC said in a statement.

"Deliberate interference such as the jamming of transmissions is a blatant violation of international regulations concerning the use of satellites and we strongly condemn any practice designed to disrupt audiences' free access to news and information," the broadcaster said.

A spokeswoman for the BBC declined to say who could be responsible for the disruption. A spokeswoman for Eutelsat could not be reached for comment.

In February, the then head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, said Iran had repeatedly tried to jam the BBC's Persian-language television programmes and said Iranian authorities had arrested and threatened BBC Persian staff.

"For those working for the BBC Persian service, interference and harassment from the Iranian authorities has become a challenging fact of life," Thompson said at the time.

Last September, Iran arrested several people for supplying information to the BBC, accusing them of seeking to portray a negative image of the Islamic Republic.

The BBC said on Thursday that services suffering disruption included the BBC World News and BBC Arabic television channels and BBC World Service radio services in English and Arabic.

Eutelsat, which has been calling for Iran to stop jamming signals since May 2009, said programming by the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty had been disrupted.

 

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