The Bruges Group, the organisation representing Europe’s international public broadcasters, has asked governments to “react energetically” to what it describes as the systematic interference that has hit the satellite broadcasts of some of its members.
The interference, which has been present for several months, has hit the broadcasts of the BBC and Deutsche Welle. Transmissions from the Voice of America, which is not a member of The Bruges Group, have also been affected.
“This is a deliberate operation of organised interference, aimed at specific broadcasts, which is equivalent to international piracy,” said The Bruges Group in a statement, pointing to technical analysis by satellite operators that showed the interference to be coming from Iran.
Investigations by The Bruges Group have found there to be no remedy either in international law or through the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to prevent the jamming from taking place. Consequently it is backing proposals by CEPT (The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) to call on the ITU Plenipotentiary meeting in October 2010 pass a resolution to protect telecommunication satellite assets and operations. CEPT has also requested the involvement of the Legal Subcommittee of UNCOPOUS (United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space).
The Bruges Group is concerned that the easy solution by its members would be to simply cease broadcasting the affected signals on the pretext that this interference would result in collateral damage to other broadcasts or to the satellite itself.
The organisation is pressing satellite operators to publically back the broadcasters and if necessary go so far as to identify the country that has the interference at its source. The Bruges Group is hoping that a code of conduct of this type will be approved at the next meeting of the European Satellite Operators Association (ESAO) later this month.