Reporters Without Borders today deplored the banning of satellite TV station Saba TV by Iran's Supreme National Security Council as one more example of the battle by the country's media for freedom of expression.
The Council has declared the Dubai-based station "illegal" after trying to stop its launch, announced last summer as imminent. The national constitution forbids any independent radio or TV station. Saba TV decided to delay its launch as a result of the ban.
The worldwide press freedom organisation said it hoped Saba TV would be allowed some day soon to broadcast freely in Iran.
The station was set up by Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karoubi, a pro-reform religious figure and ex-speaker of parliament, as the first satellite TV station founded by a former Iranian politician and aiming to provide "objective and unbiased news" about Iran to Farsi-speaking people everywhere.
The station said on 26 December it would file a complaint against the Council's secretary-general, Ali Larijani, for banning the station. The Council forbade the Iranian media to give news or publish ads about the station's impending launch. The authorities, backed by the regime's hardliners, have attacked Karoubi for being "anti-nationalist" and "favouring Westerners."
The Council recently banned newspapers from printing news about the crash of a C-130 Hercules military plane in Teheran on 6 December in which 84 journalists died. It has also forbidden the media to mention the country's nuclear capacity. The Council is appointed by the country's Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and chaired by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
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