International broadcasters voiced their concerns at the sharp rise in the jamming of their signals in a conference hosted by the BBC.
Broadcasters including the BBC, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America have recorded problems with interference to their foreign services to viewers in countries such as Iran, Bahrain and China in the past.
It affects both satellite TV and website access. But in the last two years the problem has worsened, with satellite owner Eutelsat reporting that jamming incidents doubled between 2010 and 2011, then trebled from 2011 to 2012.
Eutelsat estimated that 30-50 per cent of jamming in 2010 originated in Iran. This continued in 2011, with increasing activity traced to Syria and Bahrain. This year, most of the interference has been traced to Syria.
Peter Horrocks, Director of Global News at the BBC, said: “Satellite jamming is a growing scourge and a threat to the vital flow of free information. Throughout its history the BBC World Service has countered the efforts of jammers, whether on old shortwave or new satellites. We always called on the guile of the best editorial and technical minds to overcome jamming. Today we do that again to help tackle the menace of jamming.”
At the conference there was a call for greater political pressure to combat jamming and discussed technical solutions and cost implications. The regulations governing satellite communications do not currently offers direct sanction against countries that allow jamming to originate from within their borders.
Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat said: “Today’s meeting adds more weight to the growing voice of condemnation of pollution of the airwaves and the need for decisive action to combat jamming.”
The International Telecommunication Regulations, a global treaty adopted in 1988, are due to be reviewed next month at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai next month.
The International Broadcasting Without Barriers Conference was attended by over 100 delegates, including the CBA, and a variety of satellite operators, broadcasters and stakeholders together to consider what political and technical steps that can be taken to make the distribution of media less vulnerable to interference.
How does satellite jamming work? Here’s a short clip from the BBC.