Tehran’s police chief, General Lofti, told an audience at a Chastity and Hijab meeting held on 13 November 2016, that Iranian authorities have seized 713,546 satellite dishes, 923,299 low-noise block downconverters (LNB’s) and 10,766 satellite receivers over the past seven months.
Further, General Lofti informed his audience that authorities have arrested 293 individuals accused of installing satellite dishes, and that over 40 gangs of satellite dish installers have been broken up or otherwise disrupted.
Another Iranian official at the meeting accused other officials of actually impeding the efforts of Iranian police and other authorities from confiscating illegal satellite dishes and other equipment. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said, “Some officials provide statistical data saying that 60 per cent of the population use satellite dishes and denying the actions the police and the prosecutor’s office are taking to remove and collect satellite dishes.”
Jafari Dolatabadi also pointed out that possession of any equipment associated with receiving and watching satellite television is against the law, and urged other official and members of the public to not impede Iranian law enforcement efforts to confiscate this kind of equipment.
Not only is possession of satellite television equipment illegal in Iran, it is also considered to be harmful to public “morals” by Iran’s leadership.
Speaking in July 2016 after a crackdown saw 100,000 satellite dishes confiscated, General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, commander of the Basij paramilitary force, said, “What these televisions really achieve is increased divorce, addiction and insecurity in society. Most of these satellite channels not only weaken the foundation of families but also cause disruptions in children’s education and children who are under the influence of satellite have improper behaviour.”
According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor earlier this year, anyone caught possessing satellite television equipment can face fines of up to U.S.$2,800.
Regime hardliners in Tehran believe that satellite television broadcasts from the West and Gulf Arab countries are part of a deliberate campaign to wage a ‘soft war’ against Iran, and that all programming broadcasted into Iran is designed to undermine support among ordinary Iranians for the government. Yet not everyone in the Iranian government believe that the ban on satellite television is worth the effort, with President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati both known to have called for the law to be relaxed and changed.