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In advanced multimedia applications coded video signals are often transmitted over error prone channels. Lossy video coding together with channel errors causes more degradation in quality of the video. Unequal Error Protection (UEP) is one way to address this issue. The efficiency of UEP can be improved by carefully considering the importance of each protected element. Using UEP with scalable video coding (SVC) further enhances the quality of the transmitted video. In this paper, an efficient UEP scheme is proposed that protects scalable video over networks with packet loss. The proposed method is based on a newly presented evolutionary algorithm, Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO). PSO is employed to find the optimal channel rate allocation for each layer. For evaluation purposes the scalable extension of H.264/AVC has been used as the encoder and decoder. Experimental results show a significant improvement of 2.1 dB in average, in comparison with conventional methods.