WASHINGTON- The Broadcasting Board of Governors, as well as other leading international broadcasters and broadcasting unions, are welcoming new steps taken by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to address harmful interference with satellite transmissions, including cases of deliberate interference.
At its recently concluded Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Korea, member states agreed to support ITU efforts to track reported cases of interference with satellite broadcasts.
Broadcasters have complained that interference has cut them off from audiences in numerous countries and regions over the past several years.
The new action to address the problem was approved on November 7, 2014 by the Plenipotentiary Conference, attended by representatives of 171 countries.
Entitled “Strengthening the role of ITU with regard to transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities”, the agency noted that countries are increasingly relying on space-based communications for a wide variety of services, including remote sensing, communications, and weather forecasting, as well as for bridging the digital divide.
Interference, the ITU assembly noted, makes the delivery of satellite services less reliable, and therefore complicates efforts to bridge the digital divide – efforts which bring enhanced telecommunication services to the developing world.
The Resolution invites the ITU to enter into agreements with satellite monitoring facilities in order to detect the sources of interference, a process known as “geo-location” and it calls upon the ITU to create a database on interference.
“We welcome this important step from the ITU to identify the source of satellite interference,” said Jeff Shell, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all U.S. international broadcasting. “We see it as a pre-requisite to ending this deplorable practice, which is in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – that defends the freedom ‘to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers’.”
The effort to counteract satellite jamming brings together a coalition of broadcasters from a number of countries, including Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Arab States Broadcasting Union have also taken a leading role. In addition, satellite operators who have been impacted by the practice – in particular, France’s Eutelsat and Saudi Arabia based Arabsat – have worked with the broadcasters.
The successful effort to obtain ITU action on the proposal was also a multi-national effort, introduced by a representative of France’s Agence Nationale des Frequences (ANFR) and steered through debate by an official of the United Kingdom’s regulatory authority, OFCOM.
The complete text of the resolution follows:
RESOLUTION COM5/2 (BUSAN, 2014)
Strengthening the role of ITU with regard to transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities
The Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (Busan, 2014), recalling Resolution 68/50, on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 5 December 2013, together with the associated Report A/68/189,noting
Resolution 37 (Rev. Dubai, 2014) of the World Telecommunication Development Conference, on bridging the digital divide, considering
a) that ITU Member States rely, inter alia, on reliable space radiocommunication services, such as the Earth exploration-satellite service, radiocommunication satellite services, the radionavigation-satellite service and the space research service;
b) that one of the strategic goals of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector is “to ensure interference-free operations of radiocommunication systems by implementing the Radio Regulations and regional agreements, as well as updating these instruments in an efficient and timely manner through the processes of world and regional radiocommunication conferences”, taking into account Articles 15 and 16 of the Radio Regulations, resolves to encourage the dissemination of information, capacity building and the sharing of best practices in the use and development of radioocommunication satellite networks/systems, with the objectives of, inter alia, bridging the digital divide and enhancing the reliability and availability of the above-mentioned satellite networks/systems, invites the ITU Council to consider and review any proposed cooperation agreements on the use of satellite monitoring facilities consistent with the objectives of this resolution, in light of their strategic and financial implications, within the budgetary limitations of the Union, instructs the Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau to encourage all Member States to consider these matters in the context of Resolution 37 (Rev. Dubai, 2014), instructs the Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau
1. to promote access to information, upon request by administrations concerned, related to satellite-monitoring facilities, in order to address cases of harmful interference in accordance with Article 15 of the Radio Regulations, through cooperation agreements referred to under invites the ITU Council above, within the budgetary limitations of the Union, in order to implement the objectives of this resolution;
2. to continue taking action to maintain a database on cases of harmful interference, reported in accordance with relevant provisions of the Radio Regulations and in consultation with Member States concerned;
3. to coordinate activities, if necessary, with the Directors of the Telecommunication Development Bureau and the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau;
4. to report on the implementation of this resolution as appropriate, invites Member States and Sector Members to participate in the activities related to the implementation of this resolution.