Screen capture from this video, filmed during a police intervention near Isfahan in July.
Iranian police have launched a new crackdown on satellite dishes, which many Iranians, especially in the capital, use to watch TV channels broadcasted from abroad. The police do this on a regular basis, but, despite changing tactics, our Observers in Tehran tell us this is a losing battle.
Though satellite dishes are banned, Tehran’s rooftops are littered with them. The police regularly confiscate them, and, approximately once a year, launch a major crackdown. This year’s campaign began in earnest on Sunday, according to our Observers in Tehran. Usually, uniformed police – and sometimes even special operation forces that propel down the sides of tall buildings
– carry out these operations. This time, however, police are in plainclothes, and instead of taking away the whole dish, they’re only taking the “low-noise block downconverter”, or LNB
, a little box that receives signals from satellites and amplifies them. This effectively renders the dishes useless. The police sometimes hand out fines, too, but not systematically.
Authorities in Iran see foreign channels as a threat, especially those broadcast from the West, like BBC Persian and dozens of other Persian-language channels. Hard-line cleric Ahmad Khatami has said
these channels are used by the country’s enemies to “fight against Islam, the Islamic Revolution, and the great Iranian nation.” While no exact figures are available, an Iranian researcher recently told attendees of a seminar on the “harming effects” of satellite dishes that about 65 percent of the capital’s residents use them
, and about 30 to 40 percent of other cities’ residents do.
The narrator of this video says: “Today is December 17, 2012. Today plainclothes officers attacked this building and destroyed the dishes. They took the LNBs, and put them in a bag – perhaps to sell them somewhere nearby. They’re wasting their time fighting against satellite dishes. They know people will replace them immediately. The most interesting point is that they’re now jumping from roof to roof, without any notice or permissions.”