Broadcasting Board of Governors Information War Lost: Iran

by The Federalist

They’re at it again. The gift that keeps on giving.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors/International Broadcasting Bureau (BBG/IBB) is whining about effective countermeasures by the Iranian government, blocking its programming going into Iran.

And the Iranians are doing it quite well. As an October 4, 2012 BBG press release notes, the jamming is effective “across several continents.”


These guys are good at what they do! Really good! They are trained professionals.

And then again, there is the BBG/IBB.

According to the press release:

“International Broadcasting Bureau Director Richard M. Lobo called the most recent interference “an outrage (and) a deplorable violation of well-established international agreements” in a statement issued when the incident started.”

Okay. So much for what Mr. Lobo thinks.

Let’s do a reality check:

First. The Iranians don’t care what Mr. Lobo says or thinks. At times the Iranians don’t care what anyone thinks. This is one of those times. As much as we may not like it, their perspective is to protect their national interests as they see fit.

Second. The BBG/IBB is into denial. We already know that the BBG/IBB has firmly established itself as “The Voice of Hypocrisy;” namely, “supporting freedom and democracy.” The Iranians have had their own experience with this agency. Several years ago, the Iranians took to the streets and engaged in what became deadly protests against their government. They were out there on their own. They learned that they could not count on the West for substantive support. All they got were a lot of words, symbolic support. In short, the Iranian opposition felt betrayed. The Iranians don’t forget things like that. Whatever they are doing in these latest events, they know they are out there doing it for themselves, by themselves.

Third. We want to congratulate Mr. Lobo and the BBG/IBB for verifying for the Iranian government the effectiveness of their jamming operations. The folks in Tehran must be feeling pretty good. They poked the BBG/IBB good – someplace where they can feel it. To all outward appearances, Mr. Lobo – as the Chief Executive Whiner of the IBB – hasn’t learned that the best thing to do in certain circumstances is keep a lid on things. In short, Mr. Lobo just told the Iranians that the BBG/IBB doesn’t have effective countermeasures to get its direct broadcasts into the country. Sometimes, you need to take your medicine, shut up and move on, instead of flailing away in a futile, almost juvenile temper tantrum.

Fourth. And then there is the Internet. The Iranians are savvy users of the Internet and other technologies. What one can be sure of is that the Iranian government knows its people very well. They will take steps to block access to foreign Internet sites particularly those of the BBG/IBB. And here’s another thing, the Iranian government – like the Chinese (who may be providing the Iranians material/developmental support) – are well on their way to creating their own Internet. They see what the Chinese have done, they like the concept and the execution and they are following suit.

And lest we forget, we haven’t seen the Iranian Cyber Army weigh in with a demonstration of its latest capabilities.

Fifth. We should also remember that this is the agency that canned one of its supposedly popular programs to Iran. It’s “Parazit” satire program. The BBG/IBB has never come clean as to why the show got yanked off the air. And they won’t. The BBG/IBB isn’t about coming clean: with the Congress, the American taxpayers or its audiences. That’s three strikes and they contribute to our view that if the BBG/IBB is taking the United States Government out of the business of international broadcasting, then the Congress can save the American people a ton of money by getting rid of the agency – because that’s where we are at – an agency that has no message, no credibility and no mission resonance. An across-the-board total failure.

And this doesn’t even include its other debacles-in-progress.

The Iranians have put a lot on their plate. They have been ratcheting up their hostile rhetoric toward the Israelis. Unlike the BBG/IBB, the Israelis have a whole lot of credibility and share one thing in common with the Iranians: protecting their national interests. For their part, the Iranians haven’t figured it out that you can’t have it both ways: saying that their nuclear program has peaceful objectives and at the same time talking about annihilating the state of Israel.

To put it mildly, things are getting tense. The Iranians and Israelis have put themselves in a place where it is very difficult for each other to back down without losing their international credibility over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program and its potential weapons-making capabilities. Instead of talking with each other, they are talking at each other and not being very nice about it. Psychologically, they are preparing their people for war.

In the past, serious hostilities have broken out in the Middle East during the month of October. We should be wary.

And that’s on top of what’s going on elsewhere in the Middle East, for all you “Arab Springers” out there who still desperately want to believe that kumbaya baloney.

In the meantime, as far as this latest whining from the BBG/IBB is concerned: it doesn’t mean much – except to the sycophants and self-promoters on the Third Floor of the Cohen Building. If it has any meaning at all, it is yet another example of the inept and incompetent state of US Government international broadcasting (or whatever these guys think they are up to these days).

There are far more important events taking place in the Middle East. And as those events have demonstrated, the BBG/IBB losers of the information war have no material effect on any of them.

And you can be sure the Iranians aren’t afraid of Mr. Lobo or the BBG/IBB. They’ve demonstrated they know how to deal with them: programs blocked resulting in no BBG/IBB interference in Iranian internal affairs, from the Iranian point of view.

The Federalist
October 2012



Official BBG Press Release


Iranian Jamming Disrupts U.S. International Broadcasting Across Several Continents

OCTOBER 4, 2012

Washington, D.C. — Iranian jamming of U.S. government-sponsored news and information programs disrupted broadcasts from Morocco to Eastern Europe to Indonesia, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has found.

Satellite operator Eutelsat confirmed that the intermittent jamming was coming from inside Iran. This most recent episode of interference with broadcasts began on Oct. 3 and is in clear violation of international agreements.

In addition to Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian Service and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Radio Farda, both of which offer programs for Iranian audiences, the jamming also has affected dozens of satellite broadcasts of BBG radio and TV programs.

One of the BBG’s Internet anti-censorship vendors is reporting that traffic from Iran using its software and servers has increased substantially since the jamming began.  This suggests that Iranian listeners and viewers are shifting to the Internet to receive news and information.

Jamming is prohibited under rules of the International Telecommunications Union.  The recent jamming affected not only U.S.-supported programming, but also the British Broadcasting Corporation.

International Broadcasting Bureau Director Richard M. Lobo called the most recent interference “an outrage (and) a deplorable violation of well-established international agreements” in a statement issued when the incident started.

The jamming coincided with reports of street demonstrations and mass arrests of Iranians protesting falling currency exchange rates. Both VOA and RFE/RL report that in some instances, interference starts just before newscasts, and ends just afterwards.

Three satellite transponders operated by Eutelsat and those most popular among Iranian viewers have been affected: HotBird 13B, Eutelsat 25A and Eutelsat 7A. Viewers said the signals reappear intermittently.

The interference has diminished or altogether blocked other U.S.-supported programs on the Eutelsat satellites, including Georgian, Armenian, Bosnian, Korean and many other language broadcasts.

VOA and RFE/RL programs continue to be broadcast on diverse media platforms, including digital audio and video streams on other satellite paths and on the Internet.

In February, the ITU called upon the world’s nations to take “necessary actions” to stop intentional interference with satellite transmissions. Earlier, the BBG and other international broadcasters called for action against jamming.

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