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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Iran targets foreign broadcasters

By Steve Metcalf and Mike Rose
BBC Monitoring

Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran news network
No controversy on Iranian state TV

The authorities in Iran are reportedly making new plans to disrupt broadcasts from abroad after earlier efforts failed to stem the tide sufficiently.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), a hardline body guarding the gains of the 1979 Islamic revolution, intends to increase the number of jamming stations in Tehran and other cities from 50 to 300 within two years, an Iranian online paper has reported.

The independent online paper Rooz says new technology will be used in an attempt to block specific satellite channels broadcasting from abroad.

The move comes at a time the Bush administration is planning to expand TV broadcasts to Iran, to augment Persian-language broadcasts by Voice of America.

Broadcasts should not be contrary to the values and principles of Islamic and national culture
Iranian MP

Numerous Persian-language channels run by Iranian expatriates in California also crowd the airwaves over Iran.

But attempts to jam them a few years ago - said to have come from an Iranian diplomatic facility in Cuba - stopped after a month.

And further attempts to block them in the run up to the Iranian presidential election in June 2005, according to AFP news agency, were only partially successful, as the microwave signals being used proved so powerful that they interfered with state television and the mobile phone network.

Crackdown

Plans are also afoot to clamp down on the possession of satellite dishes within Iran. Although they are illegal, the ban has not been rigorously enforced in recent years.

Now the authorities are talking about confiscating satellite dishes and fining their owners.

At the same time, the Iranian state broadcaster Voice and Vision is seeking to expand its overseas broadcasting while controlling incoming broadcasts and channelling them via the state network and cable subscription services.

A member of the parliamentary cultural committee said that such broadcasts should "not be contrary to the values and principles of Islamic and national culture".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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