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Mon 6 Jan 2003 04:00 AM

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Iran to end ban on satellite TV?

Members of the Majlis of Iran have voted to end the openly-flouted national ban on satellite television, and instead place restrictions on what residents of the Islamic republic are allowed to watch.

The reformist-controlled Majlis (Parliament) of Iran has voted to end the openly-flouted national ban on satellite television, and instead place restrictions on what residents of the Islamic republic are allowed to watch.Members of the Majlis approved a text that tasked the Telecommunications Ministry to develop over the next six months “receivers that can receive a limited number of foreign channels” whose broadcasts do not contravene Iran’s national and Islamic values.The decree, which is subject to approval by a conservative supervisory body, also authorises state television to relay programming from some foreign media, and would grant certain professionals such as academics and journalists unlimited satellite television access.During the morning debate, carried live on state radio, reformist MPs argued that a total ban had proved impossible to enforce. “Since the banning of dishes eight years ago, three million dishes and receivers have been sold and the police have seized only 70,000 of them”, claimed Ali Asghar Amir Sherdust, a member of the Majlis Cultural Committee.To become law, the bill needs to be approved by the Guardians’ Council, the conservative-controlled body that examines all laws to see if they abide by Islamic law and the Constitution.Satellite TV was banned in Iran in January 1995 for everyone except some state and media offices, blamed by clerics for spreading "corrupt" Western culture.

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