U.S. enacts sanctions on Iran media

By Sara Rajabova

The United States has imposed fresh sanctions on Iran that include bans on the country's media, Press TV reported on Friday.

The new bans are included in the $633-billion military bill for 2013 which US President Barack Obama signed into law on Wednesday.

The anti-Iran sanctions portion of the bill, among other economic features, blacklists the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and its head Ezzatollah Zarghami and will block all the IRIB assets and prevent others from doing business with it.

The pulling of Iranian TV channels off the air is not for the first time, as it had happened several times since the EU and U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran.

In October, one of Europe's leading satellite providers said it had taken Iranian state television and radio channels off the air to comply with tougher European Union sanctions on Iran.

European satellite provider Eutelsat and British satellite operator Arqiva have jointly agreed to terminate broadcasts via Eutelsat's Hot Bird satellites of channels belonging to IRIB.

Then the Eutelsat decision hit 19 channels provided by IRIB including English-language Press TV - used by Tehran to broadcast its news and views beyond the country's borders.

In the same month, international satellite services provider Intelsat blocked Iran's official broadcast channels in Europe.

In November, the Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) also took all Iranian channels off the air in East Asia under pressure from the U.S.

In a similar move in December, Spain's top satellite company Hispasat ordered its satellite provider Overon to take Press TV and Hispan TV off the air.

The restrictions on Iranian media were enacted as anti-Iran sanctions portion of the bill is part of measures aimed at pressuring Iran to halt its nuclear energy program.

The United States and other Western countries have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran refutes the allegations and argues that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.