Jam yesterday

An ex-colleague who has been working on the BBC World Service Persian transmissions tells me that his efforts are being jammed. Nothing new under the sun... when I worked in the Bush House BBC Control Room in the 1960s the 'Cold War' was still on and the USSR routinely jammed our short-wave transmissions in Russian and other Eastern Bloc languages.

To do this they had huge transmitter sites which broadcast noise on the same frequencies to blot out our transmissions. This worked well enough for cities, but for the more isolated areas it was more difficult for them to provide a strong enough signal and it was often possible to hear what we were saying - just.

One trick listeners used to use dated from German jamming of British broadcasts in World War 2: use two radios, tuned to different frequencies carrying the same transmission, and spaced like what we would now call a 'stereo pair'. This causes the transmission to appear to be in the centre, with the noise on the sides, and that makes it easier for the ear to separate the sounds.

With 'glasnost' and the subsequent fall of the USSR this all stopped. In the present case it seems mainly to be the television service which is being jammed - presumably by jamming the uplink to the satellite: I don't know what they are doing with the radio transmissions. But it's all part of a depressingly familiar pattern: jam incoming transmissions, control the news on your own media, restrict foreign journalists, blame the BBC and the British Government for any disturbances, and beat up, and then fire live rounds on, your own people. This upheaval is unique in the use of Twitter and the spread of videos taken on mobile phones, so trying to suppress the evidence isn't working. I'm not about to make any political predictions: but it's evidently going to get worse before it gets better. If.

Posted: Sun - June 21, 2009 at 09:46 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM