Attempts to jam RFS broadcast not new

Attempts to jam RFS broadcast not new — RFS founder – BorneoPost Online | Borneo , Malaysia, Sarawak Daily News

Attempts to jam RFS broadcast not new — RFS founder


Posted on January 19, 2013, Saturday
Alexander Frusis
Clare Rewcastle Brown
KUCHING: Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) founder Clare Rewcastle Brown claimed there have been previous attempts to jam its broadcast.
In an emailed reply yesterday, she said these attempts were made during the last state election in 2011 but halted following protests made by RFS.
She also mentioned that jamming the programming of the station is a violation of international laws and contravention of international protocols.
Clare was reached yesterday for comments following news reports of state leaders urging the authorities to jam the transmissions of RFS, which broadcast from 6pm to 8pm daily.
Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing had said in a news report on Thursday that he wanted RFS to be stopped because it was poisoning the minds of the rural populace, especially the Ibans, and running down the government.
Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, a day later, described RFS as the ‘naughty one’ and had no respect for the truth. “The fact that they illegally broadcast from a foreign country shows that the broadcasters have no pure motive in what they are doing,” Taib had said.
Clare in the email confirmed she runs the RFS as well as the Sarawak Report website, and she also said she had explained at a UK Parliamentary briefing earlier this week on the reasons for her performing this role.
She claimed there were organised attacks on the Sarawak Report website causing it to be closed down several times during the last election, and she attributed it as huge sign of weakness by the state government.
Clare, a British investigative journalist, founded the Sarawak Report in February 2010 and the RFS in December that same year. She was born in Sarawak to British parents prior to the formation of Malaysia.
She recalled Masing as among the first personalities interviewed by the radio station. “He started out by praising RFS and agreeing that a free media is a good thing and that politicians should be seen to be able to win the arguments if they want to hold onto their positions. He soon changed his tune,” she said.
Meanwhile, a regular listener Alexander Frusis – a 22-year-old from a longhouse at Entulang, Sri Aman – said RFS is very popular especially in his longhouse.
He pointed out that RFS has been very effective especially when interviewing his father Frusis Lebi, a farmer with deformed hands whose welfare assistance was stripped following his support for the opposition which then on sparked the ‘Jangan Lawan Tauke’ debate.
“It is not a matter of getting the other side of news, but rather we want to hear what the people really want to say. It is one of the alternative media which even the young are listening.
“I was even told that at some longhouses in the central region, the longhouse folks put the radio on a loud speaker so that everyone can listen to it,” he said.
The opposition parties have been active in distributing free radio sets to enable the people in the rural areas to listen to the broadcast in short wave frequency.
Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Joseph Salang could not be reached for comments on the issue, particularly on actions taken by the ministry to stop the broadcast.


Iran says capable of jamming foes' communication systems

Tue, 15 Jan 2013 15:33 GMT
Source: reuters // Reuters

DUBAI, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Iran can disrupt enemy communication systems as part of its growing "electronic warfare" capabilities, a senior Iranian commander was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Western analysts say Iran has launched increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks in a growing confrontation with foes, including the United States, Israel and Gulf Arabs, at a time of rising pressure on Tehran to curb its nuclear programme.
For its part, Iran has suffered a string of cyber attacks in the past year targeting industrial sites, an oil export terminal and oil platforms, Iranian officials have said. And a computer worm disrupted its nuclear activity in 2010.
The Islamic Republic has denied accusations that it hacked into U.S. banks last year, but has also devoted resources to building up its cyber defence capabilities.
On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, Iran's ground forces commander, said that Iran was now capable of disrupting its enemies' communications.
"We have been equipped with electronic warfare systems in order not to remain just a defending force, and rather become able to jam the enemy's communication systems," said Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, Iran's ground forces commander, according to the Fars news agency.
"Communications are highly valuable in future and current wars and our armed forces have realised this completely and have prepared themselves proportionate to today's needs."
It was unclear whether Pourdastan was referring to military targets that Iran might consider a threat or civilian targets, such as what it considers to be subversive foreign media.
Satellite operators and broadcasters have repeatedly accused Iran of jamming their satellite signals. European satellite provider Eutelsat complained to international regulators last year that Iran had jammed signals from Persian-language channels broadcast by the BBC, Voice of America, and other operators.
Iran has tightened online security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Iranian authorities believe was planted by Israel and the United States in a bid to hobble its nuclear programme.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


Iran’s Broadcasting Feud

Written by :
on : Monday, 7 Jan, 2013

Iran’s Broadcasting Feud


Tehran’s media machine is pulling out all the stops to broadcast beyond Iran’s borders, mainly succeeding in upsetting regional competitors and neglecting a domestic audience.
Former Speaker of the Iranian Parliament and reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (L) and Iranian hardline President and presidential candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) prepare for their live debate on state TV in Tehran in 2009.
Twenty years ago—when I was only seven years old—Iranian television broadcasting was limited to two channels. I remember well how one of the channels used to broadcast an Arabic program for an hour every Friday afternoon. Images of the Palestinian Intifada accompanied by mournful music make up a vivid part of my childhood memories.
Over recent years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has increasingly tried to expand its international broadcasting. That one-hour program twenty years ago has now been developed into a number of separate, costly television channels, including round-the-clock news networks, religious channels, film broadcasting, and so on.
Iran’s leaders have consistently accused foreign media of a so-called ‘cultural invasion’: a broadcasting campaign set to undermine the authority and legitimacy of Iran’s government. Amid the post-election protests in 2009, the government laid the blame on satellite television channels, accusing them of conspiring to spark protests in the streets of Iran. This view has not always been limited to the Islamic establishment; the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was convinced that the BBC’s Persian Service played a critical role in the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the ultimate fall of the Pahlavi regime.
The Iranian authorities have tried tirelessly to wean the Iranian public off their steady diet of foreign media. This has been achieved to a certain extent by passing preventive regulations and penalties on foreign media on the one hand, while launching costly international broadcasting for ‘safeguarding the truth of Islam and defending the ideals of the regime, Imam [Khomeini] and the Revolution.’ However, the expansion of Tehran’s international broadcasting empire has overall met with limited success and has ruffled feathers amongst Iran’s regional neighbors.
In November 1997, the leaders of the Islamic Republic decided to launch new TV channels to propagate their Islamic views and broadcast the self-professed ‘voice of the revolution’. These satellite TV channels started their work under the name Sahar, literally meaning “dawn”; programs were broadcast in Russian, Turkish, Urdu, Arabic, Azeri, French, Bosnian, and Kurdish. All of these continue operating and expanding their broadcasts, except those aired in Russian and Turkish.
The most prominent of these networks has been Sahar Arabic TV, the channel that caused an outspoken reaction from the French government after it broadcast a low-quality but controversial movie called The Blue Eyes of Zahra. The movie was severely censured by the French authorities for being anti-Semitic, accusing the channel of denying the Holocaust. After this incident, Sahar Arabic TV was replaced by Al-Kawthar channel, a Tehran-based, 24-hour Arabic-language television network. The channel aims to strengthen and expand Shi’a doctrine across the Middle East, and to bring Arab Shi’ites closer to the Shi’a government of Iran. According to the producers of the channel, most of their viewers are Iraqi and Lebanese Shi’ites.
Another controversial channel belonging to the Sahar Universal Network is Sahar Azeri TV, which has caused mounting tensions in relations between Iran and Azerbaijan. Both countries’ populations are predominantly Shi’ite; however, in the former country power lies unequivocally in the hands of clerics, while in the latter the leadership is fiercely opposed to religious governance. This fundamental difference between Iran and Azerbaijan has repeatedly elicited a negative reaction from Baku’s secular government, accusing Tehran of interfering with its internal affairs and pursuing their expansion of Islamism via their TV broadcasts in the Azeri language.
In December 2012, several senior employees of Sahar TV were arrested in Baku Airport. The reporters were detained on several charges, including drug trafficking. Ali Huseynov, the head of the socio-political department of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, visited Tehran and asked Iranian officials to halt Sahar TV broadcasts. On his return to Azerbaijan, local media quoted him saying, “I candidly and openly told Iranians that the Azerbaijan government is secular and following the path to modernity. Instead, the Iranian government is Islamist and ideological and is following its own way. You go your way and we go ours.”
Hoseynov also threatened to set up Shab TV, to be broadcast in Iran in retaliation for Sahar. Iran is evidently ignoring Azerbaijan’s threats. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) recently announced it will be increasing the working hours of Sahar Azeri TV from nine to twenty-four hours. The same plan is on the agenda for the French, Kurdish, and Urdu channels.
Iran’s broadcasting tensions with neighboring countries are not restricted to Sahar TV. Since the emergence of the Arab Spring, Iranian TV channels have come under attack from Gulf monarchies, especially in Bahrain. The Bahraini authorities have continually blamed Al-Alam TV for provoking unrest in the island kingdom.
Al-Alam is a Tehran-based, Arabic-language television network that began its work at the start of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. From its birth, it was evident that the main target audience was Iraq’s Shi’ite population. Although Al-Alam lags far behind Al-Jazeera and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya in terms of popularity and penetration, it has been influential among the Shi’ite populations of Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen.
The most significant confrontation between Iranian media and those of Persian Gulf neighboring countries has been over the crisis in Syria. Al-Alam sided with Damascus-based television channels and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar in defending Assad’s government—and in doing so, confronting almost every other major Arab TV channel.
The controversial Al-Mayadeen TV channel was born out of the media dispute between those Arabic-language channels supporting the Assad government and those opposing it. Several prominent reporters left Al-Jazeera and set up Al-Mayadeen to counteract the influence of what they perceived to be Al-Jazeera’s anti-Assad agenda. Many believe that Al-Mayadeen is sponsored by Iran, and its overall views are affiliated with Iran’s interests in the region.
In 2007, Iran launched its 24-hour English-language television channel Press TV, with the aim of breaking the monopoly of Western media. This was Iran’s first serious attempt at entering the arena of Western media. It has thus far failed in this mission, unable to breach the popularity of regional rival Al-Jazeera and certainly unable to compete with the quality of Western media. Ideological restrictions are mainly responsible for having stifled the channel’s development. Those that do watch Press TV are drawn from the Muslim minorities in Western countries such as the UK.
Tehran’s Spanish attempt has been equally futile. Hispan TV, the latest international 24-hour news channel launched by Iran, mainly targets South American countries. These countries have little in common with Iranian ideology beyond a general anti-American orientation. The channel appears to be totally out of touch with its target audience, mainly airing low-budget Iranian shows dubbed into Spanish and religious documentaries.
Regardless of the quality of Iran’s global media, Tehran’s vulnerability lies in its disproportionate investment in international broadcasting, neglecting the audience at home. The poor quality of local channels recruits the Iranian audience to Persian-language satellite channels. This trend is unlikely to slow down any time soon as international sanctions strangle the IRIB, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Iranian officials have made costly mistakes in prioritizing their target audience. Instead of focusing their efforts on the domestic audience, they are trying to win over viewers abroad. In dealing with the needs of their own citizens, Iranian officials have so far excelled in jamming satellite signals and prohibiting the ownership of satellite dishes, while monopolizing the running of any kind of TV or radio station.
Farahmand Alipour

Farahmand Alipour

Farahmand Alipour was the special correspondent to Mehdi Karroubi, one of the four presidential candidates in Iran’s 2009 elections. He is a graduate of Journalism with a major in Strategic Reporting from the School of Media, Tehran. Alipour now lives and studies in Italy, reading International Relations at Turin University.


North Korea Steps Up Jamming

North Korea Steps Up Jamming

Authorities seek to control the narrative on important political events in December.
North Korean TV shows Kim Jong Un (C) bowing during a memorial ceremony to mark the first death anniversary of his father Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, Dec. 17, 2012.
North Korean authorities have intensified their jamming of foreign radio broadcasts since the beginning of December, blocking signals from South Korea and the United States almost every day during the last month of a year-long period of mourning for the country’s former leader Kim Jong Il, sources in China say.

North Korean jamming is usually sporadic due to electricity outages and the cost of special facilities, but has now been continuous since Dec. 1, said a source in the border city of Dandong, in China's Liaoning province.

“Listening to RFA [Radio Free Asia] and VOA [Voice of America] is almost impossible due to static, which has continued since the first of this month,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A source in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of China’s Jilin province confirmed that static had disrupted reception of RFA broadcasts, adding that broadcasts of South Korea’s KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) were also “getting harder to hear.”

North Korean jamming signals have also interfered with Chinese broadcasts, leaving state-run CRI (China Radio International) programs hard to listen to, said another source, who recently moved to China from Sinuiju, in North Korea.

“[CRI] broadcasting used to have better sound quality than anything coming from South Korea, but they are now hard to hear because North Korea’s National Security Department is sending jamming signals,” he said.

Mourning period

Sources tied the unusual period of unbroken jamming to the first anniversary of the death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and said that the jamming will likely continue until the end of December.

Hundreds of thousands of North Korean soldiers and civilians gathered in Pyongyang on Dec. 17 for a mass memorial to the late dictator presided over by his son and successor Kim Jong Un.

But North Korea’s mood of mourning was briefly broken last week by the launch of a long-range rocket that successfully placed a satellite in orbit.

North Korea’s authoritarian leaders typically fear that foreign broadcasts will undermine official narratives of important events, possibly leading to the current period of intensified jamming.

Speaking from Beijing, one observer of North Korean affairs said that if foreign radio is now difficult to listen to in the border regions, it may be “impossible” for a time to hear in North Korea itself.

North Korean authorities usually find it difficult to block all broadcasts, though, he said.

“More than 10 radio stations broadcast into the country from South Korea, and other broadcasts come from the United States and Japan,” the source said.

“They send signals on many different channels, so it is hard for the North Korean government to jam all radio broadcasting from outside the country.”

Reported by Joon Ho Kim for RFA’s Korean service. Translated by Ju Hyeon Park. Written in English by Richard Finney.