UPDATE 2-UN tells Iran to end Eutelsat satellite jamming

* ITU says interference coming from Iran, practice is banned

* France gives technical evidence to radio regulations board

* Move adds to pressure on Tehran amid sanctions debate

(Adds background, quotes)

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, March 26 (BestGrowthStock) – The United Nations’ leading
communications agency called on Iran on Friday to end jamming of
foreign satellite broadcasts, which is banned under its global
regulations.

The unprecedented move by the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) adds to pressure on Tehran as
world powers consider a new round of U.N. sanctions over Iran’s
nuclear programme and it faces simmering social unrest.

Iranian authorities have been jamming foreign satellite
broadcasts into their territory since late last year, with
broadcasters such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle affected. Access
to the Internet for Iranian citizens has also been affected.

In a statement, ITU’s radio regulations board said
interference coming from Iran was harming signals from satellite
networks run by Eutelsat (ETL.PA: ), a French satellite operator.

Iran should find the source of the interference — which
affects both radio and television signals — and “eliminate it
as a matter of highest priority”.

“In this case there is evidence that there is a deliberate
attempt to block the satellite transmissions and so they are
saying this should be stopped. This is prohibited under the
regulations,” ITU spokesman Sanjay Acharya told a news briefing.

“Iran has not admitted it is sending out these signals that
are interfering with Eutelsat. They have said they will
investigate,” he added.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Iranian authorities have been clamping down on reformists
since last year’s June disputed presidential election returned
hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, sparking protests and
clashes. Iran has blamed other nations for stoking unrest.

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers also urged Iran
to stop jamming transmissions and said they were prepared to
take action to put an end to the interference.

France raised the issue at the closed-door talks of ITU’s
12-member experts board and provided evidence that there were
signals from Iran which interfered with Eutelsat, ITU said.

“This is the first time that the radio regulations board has
had to take this step,” Acharya told Reuters, noting that the
case involved a “deliberate attempt to block a signal”.

Previous disputes brought to the ITU involved satellites
from different European states interfering with each other, or
Cuba complaining about U.S.-based terrestrial operators sending
signals into the communist island, he said.

The board has no policing powers to enforce its decision,
but its appeal is expected to put pressure on Iran, which is one
of 191 ITU member states, to stop the practice, Acharya said.

“We will put as much pressure as possible and this is the
beginning of that,” he said.

ITU’s ruling Council could take up the issue at its annual
meeting being held in Geneva from April 13-22, but bilateral
efforts were expected to continue in the meantime, he said.

“Iran is a member of the ITU and has to adhere to treaties
that have been signed on radio regulations,” Acharya said. “No
one is allowed to block signals, that is clear.”

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(Editing by Jonathan Lynn)

UPDATE 2-UN tells Iran to end Eutelsat satellite jamming