Agence France Presse – The managers of a reformist-funded satellite television channel are to take legal action against Iranian authorities for allegedly banning their activities and broadcast, a company executive said Monday.
Saba TV’s managing director said they came to understand that their station was being banned by the government days after Iranian security agents tried to confiscate a tape from a network official at Dubai airport.
"We realize that the Supreme National Security Council has asked the newspapers to avoid publishing Saba TV advertisements and news of Saba TV (and said) this network’s activities are illegal in Iran," Behrouz Afkhami said in a statement.
Afkhami said the managers intended to file a legal complaint against Ali Larijani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, who has allegedly ordered the ban.
Funded by Mehdi Karoubi, a reformist cleric and failed presidential hopeful, Saba TV was scheduled to make its first broadcast from Dubai at midnight Wednesday.
But when an Iranian airliner carrying Saba’s production manager arrived in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, Iranian security agents tried to confiscate the tape and prevented him from getting off the plane, Afkhami said.
Iran’s constitution does not allow any radio or television stations to operate outside state control.
With a start-up budget of 330,000 dollars, its aim was "to provide objective and unbiased news about Iran to Persian-speaking viewers all over the world".
"Mr. Larijani, does your interpretation of the radio and TV monopoly include the Persian speaking media outside Iran?" asked Afkahmi, a well-known movie director and former reformist MP.
"How come your understanding of the law allows media activities for British representatives and their Iranian employees, but bans the Iranians from working for Iranians?" he said.
Saba would have been the first satellite TV to be funded by a former Iranian official, while Iranians receive signals of more than 20 opposition-run satellite channels mainly based in the United States.
Satellite television is banned in Iran but police raids and fines have not stopped dishes springing up like mushrooms on the roofs of homes in the country’s bigger cities.