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Parliamentary questions
29 February 2012
Answer given by High Representative/Vice‑President Ashton on behalf of the Commission

High Representative/Vice‑President (HR/VP) Ashton shares the concerns expressed by the Honourable Member regarding Iranian restrictions on communications including the jamming of satellite broadcasting and considers such actions a serious threat to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

HR/VP has on numerous occasions, called upon Iran to live up to the international human rights principles that it has freely signed and ratified, including Article 19.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which protects the freedom to seek, receive and impart information of all kinds. The Council has, on 22 March 2010 and again on 10 October 2011, called on the Iranian authorities to live up to the aforementioned principles and to lift restrictions on communications, including Internet censorship and to stop the jamming of satellite broadcasting including European Services, transmitted by Eutelsat. Despite complaints made through the ITU, the Iranian Authorities have still not put an end to the jamming to which the Honourable Parliamentarian refers.

In reaction to the failure of Iran to respect these principles and the overall deterioration of the situation of human rights in Iran, the Council decided in April and September 2011 to subject a total of 61 Iranians to restrictive measures that target those responsible for serious human rights violations. As a result of these measures and in addition to a EU‑wide visa ban, any financial assets of these individuals held in the EU are frozen, and no funds may be made available to them.

As for the possibility of restrictive measures against individuals within the management of Press TV, such extensions to the present list could only be applied if material human rights violations can be attributed to them.

As to the Honourable Member’s suggestion of transmitting television channels via European Defence Agency controlled satellites, European defence and navigation satellite systems operate in frequency bands different from those used for broadcast transmissions and therefore cannot simply be repurposed towards this end.

As regards the allegations of ‘censorship’ by Eutelsat, the Commission has been in contact with the company and is aware that it is exploring a means of making channels such as BBC Persia and Voice of America easily available in Iran without them being subjected to jamming, as in the past.

As regards the Iranian state television channels, which can be received in the EU, on the basis of information available to the Commission services, it is impossible to establish with certainty whether the content of their broadcasts could be qualified as inciting hate speech under the rules of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

For Press TV, the UK's Ofcom, the responsible regulator (because of its establishment in the UK) would be the right instance to complain to. Thus, if any individual/activist groups have grounds to suspect possible hate speech elements in the Press TV's broadcasts, a complaint should be addressed to Ofcom, with a copy to the Commission services.

The IRIB channels accessible on Eutelsat satellites would fall under the French jurisdiction on the basis of the satellite capacity criterion and the Commission understands that the French regulator (CSA) is currently monitoring their content.

OJ C 168 E, 14/06/2012
Last updated: 14 March 2012Legal notice