Intelsat decision to take Iranian channels off air unjustifiable: IRIB

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has strongly protested against a decision by European communications satellite services provider Intelsat to take Iranian channels, including the English-language news channel Press TV, off the air, describing the move as legally unjustifiable.

On June 19, communications satellite services provider Intelsat said it will no longer provide services to Iranian channels, including Press TV as of July 1. The decision has been made under the pretext that the company should be “abiding by” the sanctions against the IRIB president.

Press TV has learned that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – an agency of the US Treasury Department – is behind the pressure on Intelsat.

“We would like to express our strong protest against the company’s decision to cut its satellite services to IRIB on June 30, 2013,” the IRIB said in an email to Intelsat.

It added that the decision not only violates the bilateral contracts between the company and the IRIB, but is also violation of Intelsat’s commitments as stipulated in the Constitution of International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO).

Under the ITSO contract, Intelsat is required to provide satellite services to all members of the organization without any discrimination.

The email added that the US excuses to suspend services to Iranian channels are “not legally justified” and are “contrary to obligations and principles” that the US claims to be complying with.

“Unfortunately, the US state excuses for suspension of the existing services are not legally justified, and are clearly contrary to obligations and principles that the US state believes itself faithful to them.”

It went on to say that taking Iranian channels off the air by Intelsat will cause disruption in the free flow of information and violates the public rights of those people who use these services.

The IRIB stated that it has no option but to take legal action against the company to demand for compensation of damages based on the bilateral contracts, adding that it will also urge the Iranian government to pursue its rights according to Article 19 of the ITSO Constitution.

The IRIB also advised Intelsat to remember its contractual liabilities and reconsider its decision.

Press TV and other Iranian satellite channels have come under a wave of attacks by European governments and satellite companies since January 2012, and have been taken off the air in several Western countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

European companies claim they are abiding by anti-Iran sanctions. However, Michael Mann, the European Union foreign policy chief’s spokesman, has told Press TV that sanctions do not apply to media.

Meanwhile, the French-Israeli CEO of Europe’s satellite giant, Eutelsat, has written letters to several satellite companies, asking them to stop cooperating with Iranian channels, and the Israeli lobby in the United States has openly supported European attempts to ban those channels.

Media activists term the campaign against Iranian media a violation of free speech launched by the same European governments that preach freedom of expression.

By Press TV


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