Iran launches crackdown on satellite dishes

AFP: Iran has launched a crackdown against "decadent" satellite television in the Islamic republic, raiding rooftops in Tehran and other major cities to seize hundreds of illegal dishes. TEHRAN, Aug 14, 2006 (AFP) - Iran has launched a crackdown against "decadent" satellite television in the Islamic republic, raiding rooftops in Tehran and other major cities to seize hundreds of illegal dishes.

The action followed a warning issued last month by Tehran's metropolitan police chief to the country's estimated three to four million satellite television watchers who defy the law.

"The use of satellite dishes is prohibited by law and we ask people not to use this equipment anymore," Morteze Talaie was quoted as saying in the press.

Police armed with warrants raided rooftops of large apartment blocks and high-rises in the chic northern and western areas of Tehran on Sunday and have conducted similar operations in other cities, witnesses and press reports said.

"Police seized scores of satellite dishes in Velenjak (northern Tehran) and after loading their vans, they took off," a resident identifying himself as Hamid told AFP.

Police reportedly did not enter apartments themselves, instead seizing dishes installed on roofs of large buildings.

"As soon as we heard about the raid we took the dishes down, since if we were caught we would have to pay a fine of around 5,450 dollars" said west Tehran resident Ali.

The head of Tehran's provincial police, Reza Zarei, was quoted in the press as saying that the police force will act "against people who conspicuously install their dishes."

"We asked the police force to act with wisdom and respect, but in any case it is the law and it should be implemented," Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Programs broadcast on satellite channels are considered "decadent" by the authorities in the Islamic republic which frequently try to jam the airwaves.

According to a law passed more than a decade ago, the reception of satellite programs is prohibited but media reports say about three to four million people watch the channels.

Hacked decoders make it possible to receive several hundred satellite channels, including more than two dozen financed by the exiled Iranian opposition, mainly based in the United States.