Followers of the outlawed Falun Gong sect have twice this week hijacked one of China's main TV satellites and broadcast propaganda promoting the movement. Most of China Central Television's (CCTV) 10 channels and 10 other provincial channels carried on the Sinosat-1 satellite were interrupted on Sunday night with pro-Falun Gong messages which lasted from seconds to minutes, mainland security sources said yesterday. Immediately after the interruptions, mainland authorities launched a counter-attack to trace the source of the interruptions, blanking out millions of TV sets in remote and rural areas for several minutes. The incident was partially confirmed in a report last night by the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. It said Falun Gong members interrupted CCTV 1, CCTV 3 and CCTV 5 programmes in Shandong province on Sunday and again on Tuesday. Viewers in parts of Yantai city, Shandong province, saw the message 'Falun Dafa [Falun Gong] is good' on their screens in the middle of prime-time viewing on Tuesday. There was also a 15-minute interruption in Laiyang county, again in Shandong. 'We received calls from the public,' a spokesman for an office in Yantai in charge of dealing with Falun Gong told AFP. 'They said that at about 7pm a blurred image appeared on their screens for between 10 and 20 seconds.' An official with the Laiyang TV station contacted by the South China Morning Post confirmed the incident. The sheer scale and hi-tech nature of the operation has alarmed top leaders. Vice-Premier Li Lanqing, who is responsible for the mainland's media sector, has ordered an investigation. Officials from the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and other government ministries are also investigating. Officials have been at a loss to explain how the Falun Gong followers could have intercepted satellite TV signals, which would require highly sophisticated know-how and equipment. Some security sources said one possibility was that sect followers had installed equipment on a vehicle to avoid detection. Yesterday a Sino Satellite Communications Company official said: 'All I can tell you is that there is nothing wrong with the satellite.' In January, Falun Gong followers hijacked a cable TV station to broadcast pro-sect propaganda in Chongqing municipality. In March, followers hacked into a cable TV station in Changchun, Jilin province, where sect leader Li Hongzhi was born, and made a 20-minute broadcast.