A Shanghai law professor is challenging Beijing's renewed drive to seize satellite dish antennas that have mushroomed across the country, saying the crackdown violates constitutional rights. Chinese newspapers reported that the State Council and State Administration of Radio, Film and Television had issued an urgent notice ordering local authorities to confiscate dishes, except those held by a small number of hotels and government units with approval to receive foreign broadcasts. The Shanghai Daily reported that authorities had launched the crackdown on illegal satellite dishes with the aim of ridding the city of illegal receivers by April. Law professor at the East China University of Politics and Law Guan Jianqiang said China's constitution protected the rights of citizens to use satellite dishes to receive broadcasts from any point on the planet. 'Chinese citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, the right to privacy of communication and the right to receive information,' Professor Guan said. These rights also are contained in the UN's Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed. 'Banning individuals from using satellite dishes violates their constitutional rights,' he said. The crackdown was due to fears that overseas television programmes would mislead Chinese ideology, he said. 'The ban on satellite dishes is designed to prevent individuals from having access to overseas broadcasts,' said an official at the Shanghai Administration of Radio, Film and Television. But Professor Guan said: 'The Government has to abandon its drive to confiscate satellite dishes if it wants to respect the rule of law and follow its own rules.' The Shanghai Daily reported that the ban on dishes was ordered eight years ago, but had been widely ignored by local authorities.