CHRONICLES: November 2003 to April 2004
to a Washington Post article reported by AlHayat (16 November,
2003), the Pentagon is preparing itself to launch a 24-hour
satellite channel from Baghdad to provide "a more comprehensive
picture" of events in Iraq.
is ordered to close its Baghdad office following a charge of
"incitement to murder" subsequent to its broadcasting
of a tape by deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Al-Arabiya
complies but rejects the charge, noting that "the media
are reporters and not manufacturers of events" (AlHayat,
25 November, 2003).
English Language website dumps its star reporter Yvonne Ridley,
a decision that generates almost one million emails protesting
the decision. (Al-Ahram Weekly 27 November - 3 December 2003)
Prince al-Walid bin Talal announces in Beirut that he owns 49
percent of shares in LBC Sat.
formerly a producer of Al Jazeera's "Hot Point" show,
joins CNBC Arabiya to be anchor for its Political Economic Report
(AlHayat 17 December 2003)
2003: AlHayat reports that residents of Ramallah, El Bireh,
and surrounding areas have been suffering from disturbances
of and interruptions to satellite broadcasts. The reasons are
not known but rumors include Israeli security measures, microwave
transmissions from a nearby Jewish settlement, and the presence
of local TV stations using bandwidths close to those of the
2004: Asharq Alawsat reports the resignation of Ibrahim Helal
as editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera.
Asharq Al-Awsat reports that France's minister of culture and
communications is to introduce a bill into parliament forbidding
satellite service providers from transmitting anti-semitic matter.
The bill is regarded as a response to protests in France over
the airing of al-Manar's series al-Shatat ("The
Dispersal"). On 9 February, the same newspaper reports
that Eutelsat, which transmits al-Manar on its Hot Bird 4 satellite,
believes that it does not have the legal power to prevent its
US government launches Alhurrah satellite TV channel with the
aim of "encouraging moderation and moderates, and spreading
the message of freedom and democracy in the world" (AlHayat).
MBC starts transmission of Big Brother, a "reality TV"
show, in Bahrain, leading to protests by Islamist deputies in
Bahrain's parliament (AlHayat).
Armed and masked men break in to the offices of Turkish satellite
channel Ikhlas in Gaza and tell employees to close the office
and leave within 24 hours. Observers attribute the incursion
to press rivalries. (AlHayat).
MBC halts broadcasting of Big Brother (al-Ra'is) at request
of Bahrain's Ministry of Information (AlHayat).
First anniversary of launching of Al-Arabiya satellite channel.
Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al Jazeera, is reported to
have announced at a recent news conference that Al Jazeera will
always be free-to-air. Khanfar also dismisses reports of subsidies
paid to the station by Saddam Hussein's government as based
on forged documents, and announces coming launch of three new
channelsa documentary channel, an English-language channel,
and a children's channel (AlHayat).
Saudi Arabian judge Sheikh Ibrahim Bin Nasir al-Khudayri declares
watching, working for, and advertising on US government-owned
Arabic-language satellite channel Alhurra to be unlawful, as
the station is "corrupt" and aims at "waging
war on Islam and Americanizing the world." Sheikh al-Khudayri
also noted that the station's logo of what he called "lost
horses" contained "religious symbols that...can be
understood only by those who have religious qualifications"
Abd al-Qadir Hajjar, a leading official of Algeria's ruling
FLN, declares that he will bring a case against Ali Bin Flis,
rival candidate to President Bou Taflika, for financing the
return to Algeria of Al Khalifa News TV. Abd al-Qadir Salat,
leader of the Bin Flis campaign, denies the charge. (Asharq
31: The Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and the
Issuing of Fatwas of the Organization of Senior Religious Scholars
of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa declaring LBC's Star Academy
to be unlawful by reason of its "permitting things which
by consensus are forbidden and making a public show of them,"
citing in particular "the mixing of the sexes." The
anathema applies to transmitting, watching, and financing the
program, as well as participating in it, voting for the candidates,
and expressing approval of it. The pronouncement concluded that
"it is well known that these programs are among the causes
that bring down catastrophes and disasters on Islam and the
11: AlHayat reports that Naguib Sawiris has been granted a license
to operate Iraq's first private terrestrial television station,
to be called Hawa, with satellite transmission to follow soon.
Sawiris is said to have allocated 25 million dollars as an initial
investment and has entrusted technical management of the station
to Mohammad Gohar's Video Cairo Sat. Transmission is scheduled
for June 15, according to Gohar. Hawa is described as a "general
station concerned with the economy, politics, leisure, and awareness
raising" with a focus on "confronting the social and
human disintegration that has afflicted Iraqi society since
28: AlHayat reports that US secretary of state Colin Powell
held talks April 27 with his Qatari counterpart, Hamad bin Jasim
bin Jabr Al Thani touching on Al Jazeera's coverage of events
in Iraq. The talks are described as "intense and frank."