UK officials considered approaching the French government to persuade Eutelsat to pull transmissions from the Iranian broadcaster IRIB in the wake of the Iranian jamming of broadcasters including the BBC Persian Service, VOA and Deutsche Welle.
In US cables released by Wikileaks, Jaime Turner, deputy head of multi-lateral affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Iran Group, is said to have told US officials that Eutelsat was forced to pull BBC Persian from the Hotbird neighbourhood (13 degrees East) after complaints from commercial broadcasters that persistent jamming was also effecting their signals. The BBC was initially given another satellite slot, but with less reach than Hotbird, the most popular position for reception in the Middle East. Subsequent to its withdrawal from the Globecast multiplex, independent of Eutelsat itself, the BBC signal was restored to Hotbird by Globecast, and is now present on a total of four satellites.
Eutelsat had already lodged a complaint with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), but Turner is quoted in the cables as saying the ITU has no enforcement authority, so instead other measures should be pursued. According to the cables, Turner believed Eutelsat would have been susceptible to an approach by the French government because of the cover it would gain from complying with an official government request
The UK also explored the ways to limit the activities of Press TV, Iran’s English language international broadcaster, which has a London bureau with a staff of 80 and operates under an Ofcom licence.
The station and its controversial presenter, the former MP George Galloway, have been criticised by the regulator Ofcom for breaching impartiality rules.
An informal survey conducted by the British Embassy in Tehran, the UK found that less than 15% of people in Tehran have access to either BBC Persian or VOA television broadcasts. Sometimes people were able to hear the sound, but with no picture.