Jamming began as Iranians, like those in this AP Image in central Tehran, protested falling currency exchange rates.

Iranian Jamming Disrupts U.S. International Broadcasting Across Several Continents

Jamming began as Iranians, like those in this AP Image from central Tehran, protested falling currency exchange rates.

Washington, D.C. — Iranian jamming of U.S. government-sponsored news and information programs disrupted broadcasts from Morocco to Eastern Europe to Indonesia, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has found.

Satellite operator Eutelsat confirmed that the intermittent jamming was coming from inside Iran. This most recent episode of interference with broadcasts began on Oct. 3 and is in clear violation of international agreements.

In addition to Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian Service and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Radio Farda, both of which offer programs for Iranian audiences, the jamming also has affected dozens of satellite broadcasts of BBG radio and TV programs.

One of the BBG’s Internet anti-censorship vendors is reporting that traffic from Iran using its software and servers has increased substantially since the jamming began.  This suggests that Iranian listeners and viewers are shifting to the Internet to receive news and information.

Jamming is prohibited under rules of the International Telecommunications Union.  The recent jamming affected not only U.S.-supported programming, but also the British Broadcasting Corporation.

International Broadcasting Bureau Director Richard M. Lobo called the most recent interference “an outrage (and) a deplorable violation of well-established international agreements” in a statement issued when the incident started.

The jamming coincided with reports of street demonstrations and mass arrests of Iranians protesting falling currency exchange rates. Both VOA and RFE/RL report that in some instances, interference starts just before newscasts, and ends just afterwards.

Three satellite transponders operated by Eutelsat and those most popular among Iranian viewers have been affected: HotBird 13B, Eutelsat 25A and Eutelsat 7A. Viewers said the signals reappear intermittently.

The interference has diminished or altogether blocked other U.S.-supported programs on the Eutelsat satellites, including Georgian, Armenian, Bosnian, Korean and many other language broadcasts.

VOA and RFE/RL programs continue to be broadcast on diverse media platforms, including digital audio and video streams on other satellite paths and on the Internet.

In February, the ITU called upon the world’s nations to take “necessary actions” to stop intentional interference with satellite transmissions. Earlier, the BBG and other international broadcasters called for action against jamming.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, whose mission is inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG broadcasts reach an audience of 187 million in 100 countries. BBG networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti).