‘EU not behind blocking al-Alam satellite channel’

Fri Jul 5, 2013 09:56:53

EU spokesman Michael Mann has rejected reports that the European Union is behind taking Iranian satellite channels, including al-Alam, off the air.

Mann, who is the spokesman of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told al-Alam on Thursday that the EU has received reports that the channels have been taken off air in several Western countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

Mann rejected claims by certain international satellite companies that they decided no longer provide services to Iranian channels due to sanctions imposed on Iran by the EU.

“I stress that these claims are wrong,” he said, adding that any decision about not broadcasting al-Alam and other Iranian channels has been made independently by the satellite service provider companies, the EU spokesman said.

On June 19, the Luxembourg-based Intelsat company said it will no longer provide services to Iranian channels. The decision has been made under the pretext of the company's abiding by illegal sanctions against the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) - that's Iran's national broadcasting corporation.

Intelsat has admitted it is pulling the plug under pressure from the United States. The satellite provider says it sought a waiver from Washington to extend the term of its agreement with Iranian channels, but the US government said no!

Intelsat is owned by an American equity firm, and is legally based in Bermuda. The company operates out of Washington D.C. and Luxembourg. Reports suggest the Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, an agency of the US Treasury Department, is also behind the pressure on Intelsat.

Since last October Michel de Rosen, the CEO of France’s state-owned Eutelsat, has become one of the point men in the global campaign against Iranian media, repeatedly lobbying the satellite industry to shut down the Iranian press.

Tehran has repeatedly protested, saying the move violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Along with many NGOs and independent groups, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders is yet to take a stand against the move.

European governments and satellite companies have been taking Iranian channels off the air since January 2012, citing the West's anti-Iran sanctions as pretext. This is while the spokesman for the EU foreign policy chief says sanctions do not apply to Iranian media.

Experts say that the modern telecommunications industry makes it virtually impossible for Iran to be completely silenced. Iran has been able to find new satellite providers, and use the internet, to diffuse their unique point of view.

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