2004 to May 2005
MBC Children's Channel
Walid al-Ibrahim, president of Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting
Center's board of directors, announces that the station will
launch its children's channel December 8 under the name "MBC3."
The channel will target children aged between 3 and 13 years.
Al-Ibrahim noted that 40 percent of the Middle East's population
falls with this age bracket. Al Hayat, 7 December, 2004,
p.21 Asharq al-Awsat, December 11, 2004, p.21.
France Bans Al-Manar
France's Council of State ordered Paris-based satellite operator
Eutelsat to stop broadcasting Hizbullah-owned Lebanese satellite
channel Al-Manar within two days of December 13 or pay a fine
of $6,600 per day.
said the station broadcast some programs that were "openly
contrary" to a French law banning incitement to hate, a
situation that poses "risks to maintaining public order,"
it said in a decision made available to reporters. Associated
Press, December 13, 2004. (See further in this issue Of
Bans and Boycotts)
State Department Calls Al-Manar Terrorist, Bans
Al-Manar was placed on the State Department's Terrorist Exclusion
List (TEL) on Friday 17 December, "because of its incitement
of terrorist activity," said State Department spokesman
Subsequently Washington also banned Al-Manar from broadcasting
through satellite operator Intelsat which covers North America.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 23 - 29 December, 2004, Issue
Shia Retaliate For Al-Manar Ban
Al Hayat reports that satellite dish service providers
in Beirut's southern suburbs have cut off subscribers' access
to France's Channel 5 in retaliation for France's banning of
Al-Manar from its airwaves (see December 13). The suppliers
described their action as "individual" and "popular."
Al Hayat, 22 December, 2004, p.1.
Media City Tops 80 Satellites
Asharq al-Awsat reports that the number of satellite
channels operating out of Dubai Media City reached more than
80 during 2004, more than half of them broadcasting in Arabic.
A further fifteen are waiting to complete procedures and DMC
officials expect the number of channels to double during 2005.
The same paper provides a tour d'horizon of Arabic language
channels that started broadcasting in 2004. Singled out for
mention are: MBC3 (children 3-13); Dubai Media Incorporated's
TV One; ART's "occasions" channel (devoted to "individual,
corporate, company, university, industrial plant and tourism
events"; Iraq's al-Nahrayn; and Orbit's Cinema 2 (24-hour
Egyptian movies) and Cinema 1 (Arab movies in general); Infinity
and Al-Ra'y (both variety channels); Egypt's MTC tourism channel;
Orbit's Al-Safwa; the US government's Alhurra; and Al Jazeera
Sports and Al Jazeera Documentaries. The year also saw the launch
of fifteen new Arabic music channels, many of them benefiting
from the development of SMS as a popular technology enabling
viewers to request songs and vote in competitions such as the
hugely popular Star Academy. Among these channels were Strike,
Nujum 5, al-Shababiyya, and Rotana Tarab. Rotana also launched
Rotana Cinema, exploiting its stock of some 2000 restored Egyptian
films. Asharq al-Awsat 31 December, 2004, p.18.
al-Ali Tapes Published
Asharq al-Awsat devotes close to a full page to a description
of audio and video tapes reportedly discovered in Baghdad and
due for broadcast January 6 by Alhurra that purportedly record
meetings between Arab figures, including Muhammad Jasim al-Ali,
former CEO of Al-Jazeera, and Uday Saddam Hussein prior to the
fall of the previous regime. Asharq al-Awsat's main headline
reads "Muhammad Jasim al-Ali to Uday: I am here to listen
to your point of view and to get your observations . . . and
without your cooperation and support for us our mission would
not have succeeded." In a secondary piece, Muafac Harb,
director of Alhurra, is quoted as saying, "Alhurra obtained
Uday's tapes in a more professional manner than that by which
Al Jazeera obtained the Bin Ladin tapes." Asharq al-Awsat,
2 January, 2005, p.3.
Imad Adeeb Resigns from "On Air" on Air
Imad Adeeb announces on air his resignation as host of Orbit's
'Ala al-Hawa' ("On Air"), said to be the first
live uncensored call-in talk show on Arabic television. 'Ala
al-Hawa' first broadcast eleven years ago. Adeeb gave his
reasons for resigning as being "to rest and develop himself."
Al-Hayat, 19 January, 2005, p.1.
Adeeb Says No Government Post
Imad El Din Adeeb discusses his resignation in Asharq al-Awsat,
insisting that he has no dispute with former employer Orbit
TV and that he will not be taking a government post.
Asharq al-Awsat, 28 January, 2005, p.22.
Minister for Egypt
Mamdouh El-Beltagui is replaced as information minister by Anas
El-Fiqqi and assumes the latter's position as youth minister.
During his seven month tenure as minister of information, El-Beltagui
"tighten[ed] the ministry grip over TV shows in a bid to
boost the quality of state-television broadcasts. He also refused
to air certain 'religiously controversial' TV series, formed
the Higher Committee for Dramatic Works to review scripts for
soap operas," and reduced the air time of local TV channels.
Egypt Today, March 2005, p.38.
Mufti Criticizes Unqualified Satellite Preachers
Ali Jum'a, mufti of Egypt, criticized the presence on satellite
television of unqualified proselytizers and their use of these
channels to disseminate fatwas (religious edicts) that in many
cases "failed to fulfill the criteria for the issuing of
authoritative legal opinions and failed to respect the need
for specialized expertise." Jum'a warned against the danger
of conflicting fatwas that might "stir up muddle and doubt"
in the minds of many. Asharq al-Awsat, 8 February, 2005,
Sahar TV Banned in France
Iranian TV reports that Sahar TV, a major Iranian TV channel,
was banned in France due to its airing of objectionable content,
which was monitored, translated, and released by The MEMRI TV
Monitor Project. French authorities cited the series Zahra's
Blue Eyes, as well as the earlier Al-Shatat, a Syrian-produced
film originally broadcast by Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV. The US
government also condemned Zahra's Blue Eyes in a Voice
of America editorial. Al-Shatat is reported to have been
condemned earlier by high-ranking American and European government
officials. MEMRI TV Project via www.al-bawabaforums.com.
Accuses Syria of Death Threats
Reuters reports that Al Arabiya has accused Syrian security
bodies of making death threats against members of its staff
following an interview with UN chief Kofi Annan in which the
latter urged Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. Yahoo!News, February
Start Arabic-Language TV Broadcasting to Europe
Reuters reports that the Bush administration plans to begin
Arab-language satellite-television broadcasts (through Alhurra
TV channel) to Europe later this year. France and Germany, which
have Western Europe's largest Muslim populations would be a
special focus for news and current affairs programs. "The
planned broadcasts . . . are also meant as competition for Qatar-base
channel Al Jazeera, which American officials view as an anti-American
rival for Muslim public opinion." http://story.news.yahoocom,
February 27, 2005.
Expand Persian-language TV Broadcasting to Iran
Reuters reports that the US government is "planning to
expand its Persian-language satellite-television broadcasts
to Iran as part of an initiative to press for democratic reforms
in the Islamic Republic." www.abcnews.go.com,
February 28, 2005.
Writer Sued for "Helping Access to Satellite Channels
Saudi writer Abdallah Bin-Bakhit is the subject of a lawsuit
brought by a group of individuals with the Court of Summary
Justice in Riyadh. The suit claims that his writings, among
other offenses, "had helped access to the satellite channels."
Al-Jazirah Web site, Riyadh, in Arabic, March 7, 2005, via BBC
Jordanian Private Satellite Channel Launches
"Normina," described as Jordan's first private satellite
channel, is launched officially after a five plus month trial
transmission period. The channel, chaired by Walid Erian, broadcasts
from Jordan Media City on NileSat. Programming will promote
Jordan's tourist attractions and screen entertainment programs
as well as documentaries on science, nature, and the environment.
Al-Hayat, 9 March, 2005, p.21; Jordan Times, 10
Authority for Egypt?
Al-Masry al-Yawm reports proposals to abolish the Egyptian
ministry of information following presidential and lower house
elections scheduled for October 2005 in favor of an independent
radio and television authority. According to the newspaper,
Imad El Din Adeeb is the leading candidate to head up the new
authority (see also above, January 28). Al-Masry al-Youm,
March 2, p.1.
First Demonstration of HDTV
AME, a Dubai-based business news provider, announces that broadcasting
firms Absat, Samacom, Sony Broadcast, and Harmonic Inc collaborated
at the CabSat exhibition in Dubai to give the region's first
ever demonstration of live HDTV transmission via satellite.
Shot live with a Sony HDW-750P high-definition camera, pictures
showed the CabSAt 2005 exhibition floor. AME Info press release,
March 10, 205, via BBC
USA/Syria: Survey Finds Alhurra TV Viewed by "Millions"
Middle East Television Network, the non-profit corporation that
runs Alhurra TV, reports that a new ACNielsen survey conducted
in Syria shows that millions of viewers are tuning into Alhurra.
Conducted in December and January, just ten months after the
satellite television network launched, Alhurra has, according
to the survey, a weekly viewership of 39 per cent among all
Syrian adults (15 and over) residing in satellite television
households. The survey also indicated that 60 per cent of Alhurra
viewers stated that the news on Alhurra is reliable. Middle
East Television Network press release, Springfield (Virginia),
in English, March 10, 2005, via BBC
Reacts to Sahar TV Ban
Iran's Chair of the Majlis Committee for National Security and
Foreign Affairs Ala'eddin Borujerdi says that in reaction to
the ban imposed by France on the country's Sahar TV channel
(see February 24 above), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must
summon the French envoy to Teheran and issue a warning. Borujerdi
also said that a reaction of the Ministry of Islamic Guidance
towards some of the French media active in Iran could serve
as one of the practical responses towards France's action. Mehr
news agency, Tehran, March 11, 205, via BBC
Minister Predicts 37 New Channels in 2005
Pakistan's federal minister for information and broadcasting,
Shaykh Rashid Ahmad, says that "as many as 37 new TV channels
are expected to go on air in the private sector" during
2005. The minister also mentioned that one of the Pakistani
Pashto channels is being watched in Afghanistan. Associated
Press of Pakistan, March 13, 2005.
P. Hughes Named as Future US Public Diplomacy Chief
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on 14 March announces
President Bush's intention to nominate Karen P. Hughes as the
State Department's new undersecretary for public diplomacy.
In her remarks, Secretary Rice said, "The time has come
to look anew at our institutions of public diplomacy. We must
do much more to confront hateful propaganda, dispel dangerous
myths and get out the truth. We must increase our exchanges
with the rest of the world. We must work closer than ever with
educational institutions, the private sector and nongovernmental
organizations and we must encourage our citizens to engage the
world, to learn foreign languages, to understand different cultures
and to welcome others into their homes." US State Department
Web site, Washington, March 14, 2005.
to Develop Indigenous Satellite
According to Pakistan's secretary of the ministry of information
technology, Khalid Saeed, the country expects to develop a completely
indigenous satellite in the next couple of years. A feasibility
study to develop Paksat-IR is being prepared in collaboration
with a German company and will be completed in the next four
months. Paksat-IR will replace the country's first communication
satellite, Paksat-1, in the next couple of years. Associated
Press of Pakistan, March 14, 2005.
Allows Foreigners to Own Radio and TV Stations
Turkey's parliament endorses a bill that would allow foreigners
to own radio and television stations in Turkey. Opposition to
the bill comes both from within the ruling Justice and Development
party and opposition parties, such as the Republican People's
Party and the True Path Party. Republican People's Party member
of parliament Kemal Anadol said that under the law the shaping
of public opinion had been completely left to foreign forces.
TRT 1 television, Ankara, in Turkish, March 16, 2005, via BBC
Syria Bans Correspondent from US-funded Broadcasters
Syria bans Alhurra and Radio Sawa correspondent for lacking
Ammar Musara reportedly had an accreditation, but it was withdrawn
"because of his coverage of an opposition sit-in in Damascus,"
a Syrian human rights lawyer said.
"In Syria, we open the doors to the media, particular foreigners,
to allow them to transmit a real image of what is happening
in the country," a Syrian Information Ministry official
said on Tuesday [15 March]. "We have no hostility toward
the Alhurra chain or Radio Sawa, but their correspondent does
not have the proper accreditation," he said. Aljazeera.net
web site, Doha, in English, March 16, 2005, via BBC
Allouni from Prison to House Arrest
Al Jazeera reports that correspondent Taysir Allouni has reached
his home in Granada, two days after a Spanish court ordered
him moved from a maximum security jail to house arrest for health
reasons while awaiting trail. Syrian-born Allouni, a Spanish
citizen, was first arrested in 2003 on suspicion of links with
al-Qa'ida. Aljazeera.net web site, March 17, 2005, via BBC
Takes Arab Media to Task
Reporting a White House news conference on March 16, Asharq
al-Awsat describes President Bush as taking "certain
Arab media" to task for their criticism of the United States,
which the president described as resulting from "their
criticisms of Washington's support for Israel." Asharq
Al-Awsat, March 17, 2005, p.1.
Journalists March against New Penal Code
The Turkish Journalists' Association arranges a march to the
Istanbul courthouse protesting the new Turkish penal code, which
will take effect on April 1.
Fifteen journalists' organizations have sent a letter March
17 to Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticizing
the code for "paving the way for imprisonment for crimes
committed via the press." Anatolia news agency, March 17,
2005, via BBC Monitoring.
The European Union's Board of Censorship decided during a meeting
in Brussels to ban transmission of Al-Manar TV through European
satellites starting from March 21. Al Manar TV issued a statement
saying that the decision violated legal principles, was politically
motivated, and came in compliance with a worldwide campaign
by Israel to ban its broadcasts. Al-Manar also claimed that
the decision was not made to prevent the channel from broadcasting
to Europe since the channel had not used any European satellite
network for that purpose since the French ban (see December
13). Al-Manar TV, March 18, 2005, via BBC
The Dutch Commission for the Media orders the Dutch satellite
company New Skies to remove Al-Manar TV from its bouquet. A
spokesman for the commission said that Al-Manar's broadcasts
via a Dutch satellite were technically illegal as the channel
did not have a Dutch license. Al-Manar does not deal with New
Skies directly but its broadcasts form part of a package that
New Skies receives from another provider. New Skies has promised
to comply with the order and will drop Al-Manar on March 21
or 22. Radio Netherlands Web site, Hilversum, March 18, 2005,
via BBC Monitoring.
and Other Journalists Arrested in Iraq
US forces arrest four journalists working for Arab and foreign
news agencies in Al-Anbar Governorate, western Iraq. The journalists,
who were reporting on the explosion of a booby-trapped car on
the highway between Baghdad and Amman, are employed by Al Arabiya,
AFP, AP and Reuters and all are Iraqi nationals. Al-Sharqiyah
newspaper, Baghdad, in Arabic, via BBC
Broadcaster Withdraws from Eurovision Song Contest
Tele-Liban has confirmed to the European Broadcasting Union
(EBU) the withdrawal of Lebanon from the Eurovision Song Contest
2005 (ESC 2005) to be hosted in Kiev by NTU, the national Ukrainian
broadcaster, on 19 and 21 May.
According to Lebanese national legislation, Tele-Liban is not
permitted to broadcast the performance of the Israeli participant,
thereby breaching the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest 2005.
Eurovision web site, Geneva, in English, March 21, 2005, via
Lebanon and Syria Comment on Al-Manar Bans
The foreign ministers of Lebanon and Syria, Mahmud Hammud and
Faruq al-Shar'a, currently in the Algerian capital Algiers,
have commented on the ban imposed on transmitting (Lebanese
Hizbullah) Al-Manar TV station's broadcasts on European satellites.
Minister Hammud said in his comment "we consider this to
be against the freedom of expression that the entire world including
the EU demands. We believe this attitude is not in harmony with
the call for freedom of expression these countries advocate,
and we believe there is a contradiction. We shall pursue through
our own means contact with the EU with a view to making the
domain of expression free to everybody."
Minister Al-Shar'a said in his remarks: "This decision
proves there is serious media hoodwinking going on in our region.
The facts and realities are not being transmitted as they are
to the American citizen who knows nothing about what is happening
on the international arena except through the satellite channels.
Therefore they aim to block vision. They aim to block the vision
of the American citizen primarily and the European in general,
and to open the door wide for satellite channels that transmit
specific viewpoints that serve the interest of the project for
hegemony in the region. Israel and the media hostile to the
Arabs play a major role in this field. You notice that there
is massive funding to bolster specific, pre-set media beamed
to our region."
He concluded his statement by expressing the belief that "they
have reached a point where they fear media freedom that emanates
from the Arab region and try to beam a directed media, a media
they once regarded as unsuitable for human rights and freedom".
Lebanese National News Agency Web site, Beirut, in Arabic, March
21, 2005, via BBC Monitoring.
Summit Welcomes Algeria Proposal for "New Arab Satellite"
Arab leaders welcomed Algeria's proposal to launch a new Arab
satellite, according to the Arab summit draft final communiqué.
Algeria expressed readiness to prepare necessary studies for
the project in coordination with specialized bodies in Arab
Algeria will host a two-day Arab summit due here within hours
to discuss a number of issues on the regional and international
arenas. MENA news agency, Cairo, March 21, 2005, via BBC
Government Approves New Media Law
The Syrian government approved Tuesday a draft law allowing
Syrians, in an unprecedented move, to establish satellite radio
and television channels.
law aims at organizing reception of TV satellite channels and
giving citizens the freedom to select channels freely, said
information minister Mahdi Dakhallah.
reporters the draft law "is another step towards the development
of Syrian media and the support of the private sector in media."
Kuwait News Agency web site (www.kuna.net.kw),
March 22, 2005.
Army Officer Sues Al Arabiya TV Over Report
Kuwait: Staff Lieutenant-Colonel Marzuq Muhammad al-Rajihi,
commander of the Kuwaiti Army's 9th Tank Regiment, has filed
a lawsuit against Al Arabiya satellite channel demanding moral
compensation of up to 100,000 Kuwaiti dinars after the channel
reported on 5 January that the authorities had arrested him
on the charge of involvement in a terrorist network inside the
Kuwaiti Army that was planning to launch attacks on the US forces
Al-Rajihi's lawyer Nasir al-Duwaylah told Al-Sharq al-Awsat
that the court is expected to look into this case in April and
added that his client is still in his post in the Kuwaiti Army.
He pointed out that he would take the necessary legal measures
to lift the injustice inflicted on his client who, together
with his family, was very damaged by this accusation. He appealed
to the media to get their information from reliable sources.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, in Arabic March 22, 2005,
via BBC Monitoring.
Threats to Beirut Arabsat Offices
Employees at a building housing the office of Al Jazeera, Al
Arabiya, and Alhurra, as well as CNN and Agence France Presse,
have received threats that the building will be blown up and
Lebanese security forces have provided a cordon around the building.
Al-Hayat, March 28, 2005, p.4.
Arab Journalists Urge Lebanon to Step up Security After Threats
The General Secretariat of the Arab Journalists Union (AJU)
strongly condemned threats posed to mediamen and journalists
in Lebanon amid the prevailing atmosphere of political tension.
The union, in a statement on Tuesday (29 March), said Arab journalists
everywhere resent use of the current turbulence on the Lebanese
arena to make threats against senior pressmen and news media
in an Arab country which has long enjoyed freedom of the press
The most dangerous threat is one to blow up a building housing
a number of offices of newspapers, satellite channels and Arab
and foreign news agencies in the heart of the Lebanese capital
Placing mock explosives in front of the house of the Lebanese
Press Syndicate chairman Muhammad Ba'labbaki represents a flagrant
violation of all laws, principles and norms and also of freedom
of the press in general, it said.
The union calls upon Lebanese authorities to provide security
for all journalists in Beirut which has always been keen on
providing a proper atmosphere for the prosperity of the press.
MENA news agency, Cairo, in English, March 29,2005, via BBC
Iraq: Watchdog "concerned" at arrest of Al Arabiya
Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the arrest
of journalist Wael Issam of the Dubai-based TV news station
Al Arabiya on 27 March in Baghdad by Iraqi police, who confiscated
videotapes containing newly shot footage.
"We know that Al Arabiya's executives are in touch with
the Interior Ministry and are doing their best to obtain the
release of their journalist," the press freedom organization
said. "We hope this case will be resolved as quickly as
possible and that the authorities will present valid reasons
to explain their action."
Issam, who had been in Iraq for four days, was arrested when
he went back to Baghdad airport. He is currently being held
in a police station. Agence France-Presse quoted an Interior
Ministry source as saying the seized videotapes included footage
shot in the former rebel stronghold of Fallujah. Al Arabiya
did not confirm this.
Aged 26, Issam has been working for Al Arabiya for two years.
Reporters Sans Frontieres press release, Paris, in English,
March 29, 2005, via BBC
Syria Protests to Iraq over "Allegations" Aired by
Text of report in English by Syrian News Agency SANA Web site:
Damascus, 30 March: The Bureau of the Syrian Interests Section
in Baghdad has sent an official protest to the Iraqi Foreign
Ministry against the unfounded allegations recently broadcast
by the state-run Iraqi satellite television station on confessions
by two Syrians detainees who were forced under intimidation
to present themselves as Syrian army intelligence officers.
The Bureau, on directives from the Syrian Foreign Ministry,
stressed in the memorandum of protest that the two Syrians Ahmad
al-Farra and Mahmoud Rammah are leather traders, adding that
both used to go to Iraq to purchase leathers and they are neither
medically nor academically qualified to do the alleged jobs
assigned to them as claimed by the Iraqi report.
The protest emphasized that the Iraqi report has been refuted
by the information got from the families of Farra and Rammah
in the Syrian city of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man as well as by authentic
and independent press reports widely broadcast by media.
Syria called on the Iraqi government to quickly set free the
two Syrian detainees Farra and Rammah and to enable them return
home. SANA news agency web site, Damascus in English, March
30, 2005 via BBC Monitoring.
Russia: Roskosmos Places New Satellite in Target Orbit
Text of report in English by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS:
Russia's new generation telecommunications satellite Express
AM2 was successfully placed in target orbit at 0805 a.m. Moscow
time, Wednesday [30 March] by a Proton-K booster that blasted
off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, the launch control group told
Russia's Proton-K heavy booster blasted off from the Baikonur
cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0131 a.m. Moscow time, Wednesday.
"At 0805 the satellite detached from the upper stage rocket
and settled into target geostationary orbit at the altitude
35,871 km. The maneuver was carried out in the normal operations
mode," the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) said.
The main centre for tests and control of space vehicles has
taken control of the satellite.
The Express AM2 satellite will be transferred to the customer,
state-run enterprise Space Communications.
The satellite is designed to provide a package of communications
services including digital TV, telephony, video conferencing,
data transmission, and wide band [broadband] internet access.
ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English, March 30, 2005, via
Palestinians ask Al Jazeera to Help Develop Local Media
Text of unattributed report from Doha, headlined "Information
minister discusses means to develop broadcasting authority with
Al-Jazeera managers", published by Palestinian newspaper
Al-Hayat al-Jadidah on 30 March
Dr Nabil Sha'th, PNA (Palestinian National Authority) deputy
prime minister and information minister, met last night in the
capital city of Qatar, Doha, with the heads of the satellite
television channel Al-Jazeera to discuss ways in which the two
sides can cooperate and develop the Palestinian Radio and Television
The meeting took place on the sidelines of Sha'th's visit to
Qatar. They discussed the possibility that Al-Jazeera would
dispatch a team of technical, programme, and administrative
experts to Palestine to assist in developing the broadcasting
authority's performance. Dr Sha'th thanked Al Jazeera's managers
for their willingness to support the development of Palestinian
media, especially television. Sha'th is currently on an Arab
tour to discuss ways to cooperate and support PNA [Palestinian
National Authority] media with prominent Arab intellectuals
and media figures. Al-Hayat al-Jadidah, Ramallah, in Arabic,
March 30, 2005, p. 2, via BBC
Qatar: "Al-Jazeera never anti-American" --
Al Jazeera said yesterday it has never been anti-American although
there were indications of the US administration showing a bias
against the TV channel.
Wadah Khanfar, director of Al Jazeera Satellite Channel, said
there were grounds to suspect that the US administration has
pressured the interim Iraqi government to close its bureau in
Khanfar was responding to a question during a question-answer
session at the Fifth Doha Forum on Free Trade and Democracy
at Hotel Ritz Carlton here yesterday.
Some 20 Al Jazeera staffers were arrested in Iraq and some of
them were detained without trial for over 70 days, he said.
There were no problems with Al Jazeera since its launch in 1996
until 2001, and it was actually appreciated as long as the focus
was on differences of opinion between the people and their leaders
in the Arab world. But things changed after 2001, Khanfar said,
without referring to changed US attitude towards the channel
in the aftermath of 9/11. The change was because opinions now
reflected included the US.
Khanfar earlier spoke at a session devoted to the 'role of the
media in creating a democratic climate'. The moderator was Joe
Trippi, from USA's MSNBC.
Other speakers included Walker Russel Mead, senior fellow, Council
on Foreign Relations, USA, Alain Menargues, French journalist,
Smuts Ngonyama, from African National Congress (ANC), and Brian
Hanrahan, from the BBC World.
Nearly all the speakers referred to Al Jazeera and said it was
bringing in revolutionary changes in the Arab world.
Speakers stressed that it was not possible for a society to
progress economically if there was no free flow of information.
Trade suffers if reliable information is not available, said
one speaker from the US.
Trippi noted that this was not the age of information but the
age of people's empowerment.
Menargues observed that with 20,000 'pieces of information'
available daily, people faced difficulty in making a choice
of what to access. He was referring to information explosion
and the quick transmission of information in this electronic
Ngonyama stressed that international communities should play
a role in fighting curbs imposed on the media by governments,
owners and other vested interests. He called for a widened role
for women in the media worldwide.
This was after a Moroccan parliamentarian, Nouzha Skalli Bennis,
said during the question-answer session that although the forum
talked about the role of women in media and democratisation,
they were under-represented at the forum. The Peninsula web
site, Doha, in English, March 31, 2005 , via BBC
Turkey: Watchdog Says New Law Heralds "Black Day for
The International Federation of Journalists today (31 March)
backed a chorus of protests among journalists in Turkey over
a draconian new law, which they say sets the country on collision-course
for confrontation with European standards of press freedom.
"It is a black day for press freedom when a government
enacts a law that threatens journalists with jail, and opens
the door to state censorship," said Aidan White, General
Secretary of the IFJ. "Turkey has taken one step forward
on the road to democracy, but this new law is two steps backwards
when it comes to the free press."
The new Penal Law, which was adopted in September last year
and comes into force tomorrow, 1 April, has enraged Turkey's
journalists who have held marches in Istanbul and Ankara over
clauses in the law that stipulate jail terms for journalists
in some cases and which they say contains articles that restrict
Some 15 journalists associations, in the leadership of Turkish
Journalists Syndicate, an affiliate of the IFJ, have signed
a protest letter to the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Anger over the new law has led to protests in a number of cities
around the country.
The journalists say there are 20 articles in the new law which
could restrict the right to report and may lead to arbitrary
prosecution of journalists and media. Journalists could be jailed
for publishing material deemed obscene when previously the toughest
penalty would have been a fine. They want the new penal code
suspended so these parts could be amended.
Although jail terms for journalists had been removed from Turkey's
press law in reforms last year, and changes in human rights
law have been welcomed, concerns remain over the attitude of
Mr Erdogan's government to the press. The prime minister has
been criticised for suing a political cartoonist who made fun
"The government is back-sliding on its commitment to reform
when it comes to press freedom," said Aidan White. "It
is showing signs of a new intolerance that is in conflict with
European standards and is setting up a confrontation with will
undermine its ambitions to join the European Union."
The controversy will be discussed this weekend at the annual
conference of the European Federation of Journalists, the IFJ's
regional group, which is meeting in Bilbao, Spain.
"Our colleagues in Turkey are right to protest and they
will get the support of journalists across the European Union
and beyond in their fight for press freedom," said White,
who is also General Secretary of the EFJ. "Turkey cannot
pick and choose its own human rights menu. A free press is the
lifeblood of democracy and this law as it stands challenges
the right to report. It must be changed." International
Federation of Journalists press release, Brussels, in English,
March 31, 205 , via BBC
Saudi Arabia: Justice Ministry Relinquishes Publishing and Media
Saudi Justice Minister Abdallah bin Muhammad Al al-Shaykh announces
that cases concerning publishing and media will no longer fall
within the purview of the Shariah Courts but be transferred
to the Ministry of Culture and Media as the correct locus of
expertise. Asharq al-Awsat, April 3, 2005, p.1.
Slams Satellite Songs
an interview, Tunisian singer Latifa claims to detect a "hidden
hand" working behind the scenes of the music satellites
and pushing them down a slippery slope towards a decadence that
is "the best expression of the decadence being lived by
the Arab Nation on many levels." Latifa also states that
songs that do not carry "a real message for mankind"
should "disappear." Al-Hayat, April 4, 2005,
TV Airs Trailers Warning Lebanese Against "Slipping Back
Lebanese Hezbollah TV Al-Manar was observed at 1810 gmt on 2
April to carry two trailers by the Commission for Supporting
the Islamic Resistance. The trailers aimed to send a message
to the Lebanese people asking them to beware of "slipping
back into war" and foreign "interference" in
Lebanon's internal affairs.
The first video clip showed pictures recounting the various
stages through which Lebanon had passed. It began with pictures
of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, destruction and bombardment.
It showed a picture of Arab leaders applauding during an Arab
League meeting, possibly to symbolize the signing of the Al-Ta'if
accord. The video then showed how life in Lebanon had returned
to normal after the war. It showed former Prime Minister Rafiq
al-Hariri laying the cornerstone of a project, possibly to symbolize
Lebanon's reconstruction after the war; and Hezbollah Secretary-General
Hasan Nasrallah holding a machine gun, possibly to symbolize
the "protection" of Lebanon.
The video moved to the present by showing images of US President
Bush, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the Israeli
foreign minister, Silvan Shalom. This was followed by pictures
of recent bombings and destruction, possibly in order to associate
these individuals with the incidents.
The second trailer showed a building on fire, a fire engine
and a Lebanese flag in front of which was written "Lebanon...
where to?" Al-Manar Television, Beirut, in Arabic, April
2, 2005, via BBC Monitoring.
Zee to Launch Global News Network in English
Text of report by Indian broadcast industry web site Indiantelevision.com
on 4 April
New Delhi: The Subhash Chandra-controlled Zee Network, India's
largest vertically integrated media company, today announced
that it would "soon launch" an English language global
news network with an aim to put across the south Asian viewpoint
to the world adequately.
Speaking some time back at the three-day Ficci-Frames 2005,
an entertainment and media industry-related conclave in Mumbai,
Chandra said that this initiative of Zee, amongst few others,
is aimed at trying to put an Indian stamp over the global media
and entertainment industry.
According to Chandra, for the India media companies to become
truly global and competitive at the international level, it
is necessary that the region's viewpoint is put across lucidly,
laced with adequate perspective, in front of the global audiences.
This move, Chandra said, is being done as, for example, generally
CNN explains the US viewpoint, while BBC elucidates the British
viewpoint to the global audience.
In this regard, Chandra, whose company is lobbying hard for
certain policy changes, pointed out that the government should
look into the investment norms and try removing the inadequacies
therein to enable Indian media companies to go truly global
and compete internationally. He also said that his dream is
to straddle the global market through ventures in various parts
of the world.
Chandra said this in presence of government representatives
at the Ficci-Frames convention, which was flagged off today
in the forenoon.
"Look outward and try taking new share of the global media
industry," Chandra suggested to the Indian media industry
representatives present at the convention, indicating that unless
this is done India media companies would not be able to increase
their share of the market globally.
Keep tuned as we bring you more from the Ficci-Frames convention
as also what Chandra, sometimes also referred to as the Asian
Rupert Murdoch, said during a special address. Indiantelevision.com
web site, Mumbai, in English, April 4, 2005, via BBC
Egyptian pop star Amr Diab is reported to be campaigning
among residents of his home village of Samhut, Sharqiyya governorate,
for support in his bid for a seat in the country's parliament.
Sources close to the singer say a formal announcement is expected
soon. Elaph web site, in Arabic, April 6, 2005.
Iraq: CBS Freelance Cameraman Shot and Wounded by US soldiers
Reporters Without Borders today called for a thorough and transparent
investigation into an incident yesterday near the northern city
of Mosul in which US soldiers shot and wounded a freelance cameraman
working for the US television network CBS News.
"Once again the US forces have targeted a journalist just
doing his job," the press freedom organization said. Reporters
Without Borders pointed out that this was not the first time
that US soldiers shot a cameraman after mistaking his camera
for a gun. Mazen Dana, a Palestinian working for the British
news agency Reuters, was killed in a similar fashion on 17 August
2003 in Baghdad. The US army claimed that the US soldiers involved
had acted according to the rules of engagement.
"We again call on this same army to be more vigilant and
discerning in order to avoid these unacceptable blunders,"
the organization added.
The cameraman was injured in the hip in the course of an exchange
of shots between Iraqi insurgents and members of the 1st Brigade
of the US 25th Infantry Division. In a statement issued by the
Pentagon, the US army said soldiers fired at a rebel who was
"waving an AK-47 (assault rifle) and inciting a crowd of
During the incident, "an individual that appeared to have
a weapon who was standing near the insurgent was shot and injured.
This individual turned out to be a reporter who was pointing
a video camera. Regretfully, the reporter was injured during
the complex and volatile situation," the statement said,
adding that the incident was being investigated.
The journalist, who CBS News said should not be named for his
own protection, was taken to a US military hospital for treatment.
The US army described his injuries as minor.
At least 52 journalists and media assistants have been killed
in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003, Reporters
Without Borders said. [Passage omitted]. Reporters Sans Frontieres
press release, Paris, in English, April 6, 2005 via BBC
Al Jazeera to Open Office in Caracas
Text of report by Radio Nacional de Venezuela on 6 April
[Announcer] Information and Communications Minister Andres Izarra
confirmed on Wednesday morning [6 April] that Qatar Emir Hamad
Bin-Khalifah Al Thani would visit Venezuela on 11 May as part
of the Al Jazeera-Telesur project.
[Izarra - recording] We have an agreement with Al Jazeera, Al
Jazeera-Telesur, which we hope to formalize with the emir's
visit. It includes not only the establishment of an Al-Jazeera
correspondent's office in Caracas but a whole production capability
that will allow Al-Jazeera to cover the entire region.
They want to produce some programming blocks for the new English-speaking
channel they are about to launch, as Al Jazeera is expanding
its services and information proposal. So far they have only
broadcast in Arabic, but now they will start broadcasting in
English, covering the Latin American region as part of their
signal and coverage expansion.
They have therefore decided that Venezuela is a strategic site
that will enable them to cover all of Latin America. They plan
to have correspondents in Caracas, Brazil and Argentina, and
somehow centralize their operations here. [End of recording]
[Announcer] Minister Izarra also said that by centralizing their
operations in Caracas, the Al-Jazeera-Telesur Project proves
the importance of South American integration to Arab countries.
Radio Nacional de Venezuela, Caracas, in Spanish, April 6, 2005,
via BBC Monitoring.
Arab News Channels Plan Extensive Coverage of Papal Funeral
Arab satellite news channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya plan
extensive coverage of Pope John Paul II's funeral Friday (8
April), following up on their extensive reporting of his illness
No one at either station would venture to predict how many viewers
are expected to watch the event. But Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya,
the two leading Arab news channels, have audiences estimated
in the tens of millions.
"We have two crews in place with all the equipment necessary"
to cover the funeral, which will coincide with weekly Muslim
prayers in the Arab world, said Ayman Jaballah, deputy editor-in-chief
of Doha-based Al Jazeera.
"We plan to broadcast the funeral live, but it will depend
on several factors," he told AFP.
"The main stages, such as the gathering of world leaders
(for the service), will (definitely) be broadcast live,"
Al-Jazeera's Dubai-based, Saudi-owned rival Al Arabiya said
it was also gearing up for the funeral, which is expected to
draw more than two million people to Rome, including political
and religious leaders and royals from around the world.
"Two reporters are in Rome... and there will be live coverage
during news bulletins," said executive news editor Nabil
"But we do not plan continuous live transmission, as would
have been the case for the funeral of an Arab head of state,"
he told AFP.
"Al Arabiya covers current affairs... and the pope was
an important figure given the political role he played on Arab
matters, including Iraq and Palestine," said the station's
director general, Abd-al-Rahman al-Rashed.
Arab officials and Muslim clerics have paid tribute to the pontiff,
hailing him as "a man of peace". But some Islamist
extremists have used internet sites to slam Arab TVs for reporting
extensively on the demise of the head of the Roman Catholic
Church, which they perceive as an enemy.
One internet user assailed Al Jazeera for allegedly irritating
its viewers with "a flood of material... hailing the pope,
an old tyrant."
Al Jazeera's elaborate coverage of the events surrounding the
pope's death was particularly shocking to Islamist extremists
since the television gained worldwide fame by airing "exclusive"
video and audiotapes of Al-Qa'idah chief Usamah bin-Laden following
the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States claimed by
his terror network. [Passage omitted]
Al Arabiya's director-general said the fierce criticism of his
station's coverage of the pope's death on fundamentalist websites
had been expected, but the news channel had earned applause
from other quarters, "because our coverage is meant to
inform, and does not have a spiritual goal."
Coverage is a function of the newsworthiness of events, Rashid
told AFP, recalling that John- Paul was one of those who helped
"reduce the risk of a clash between Christian and Muslim
"A Muslim Turk tried to assassinate him, but he did not
make an issue out of it," said Rashid, referring to Mehmet
Ali Agca, who attempted to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981 and
was forgiven by the pontiff.
So far, reaction to Al Jazeera's coverage has been "rather
positive," Jaballah said curtly. Khaleej Times web site,
Dubai, in English, April 7, 2005 , via BBC
France: Jean-Pierre Elkabbach Named Head of Europe 1 Radio
Journalist Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, 67, chairman of the Public
Senat channel, has been named the head of French radio Europe
1, Lagardere Active announced today in a statement.
Elkabbach, who was named director of Lagardere Active Broadcast,
replaces Jerome Bellay, whom Arnaud Lagardere has asked "to
dedicate himself exclusively to producing television programmes
from now on" at Maximal Production.
Elkabbach takes up his post today, the group added.
He will remain the presenter of the two programmes he already
hosts on Europe 1.
He will also remain in post as chairman of Public Senat, a spokeswoman
for the channel said. It was launched last week on digital terrestrial
TV and founded in 2000.
Europe 1, which has just celebrated its 50th birthday, has a
cumulative audience of 9.7 per cent, according to the latest
Mediametrie survey (November-December 2004). AFP news agency,
Paris, in French, April 8 2005, via BBC
Calls on USA to Account for Killings of Journalists in Iraq
The International Federation of Journalists today called on
the United States government to end all speculation over targeted
killings of journalists and media staff by providing "credible
and convincing" reports on incidents in which 14 media
staff have been killed since the invasion of the country in
"The United States stands accused of failing to meet its
obligations to deliver justice and fair treatment to the victims
of violence by its own soldiers," said IFJ General Secretary
Aidan White in a letter to President George Bush. Similar letters
calling for the US to carry out exhaustive investigation into
these cases have been sent by IFJ affiliates to US officials
and many countries.
8 April marks the second anniversary of the United States attack
on Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, which at the time contained scores
of reporters and media people reporting on the US invasion.
Two journalists were killed and others wounded. On the same
morning, a journalist was killed when the Baghdad offices of
the Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera was attacked by US fighter
planes. The IFJ says there are another 11 other cases of unexplained
killings in which US soldiers were involved that require answers.
"The ordeal of family, friends and colleagues of media
victims continues as they wait for justice from the authorities
about how and why their loved ones died," said White.
The IFJ says that two years after the invasion of Iraq the pain
of the war is deeply felt by journalists and media staff and
particularly by Iraqi journalists themselves who joined today's
The federation accuses the US of carrying out "whitewash"
reports of the killings -- and in many instances cases there
have been no reports at all.
reports follow the same unconvincing and incredible pattern:
secrecy over the detail and nature of the report, a failure
to examine all the evidence, paltry and cruelly insensitive
shrugs of regret, and complete exoneration of responsibility
of US personnel at all levels of command," said White.
"It is denial of justice on a shocking scale."
The IFJ says that 8 April has come to symbolize for many the
crisis of impunity which sees scores of journalists killed in
targeted assassinations each year, but few are the subject of
serious investigation and only a handful ever lead to prosecution
of those responsible.
The IFJ recognizes that most targeted journalists are the victims
of cruel extremists "with whom it is impossible to make
a moral compact".
"We condemn unreservedly those attacks and the people behind
the current wave of hostage taking which has seen the kidnapping
of our colleagues Florence Aubenas, of Liberation, her driver
Hussein Hanoun as well as Romanian reporters Eduard Ohanesian
of Romania Liberia, Marie-Jeanne Ion and Sorin Miscoci of Prima
We will campaign vigorously for their release and for the isolation,
arrest and trial of all those responsible for murder and kidnapping
of journalists," said White.
But at the same time, the IFJ says the United States needs to
act to defend its traditions of liberty and justice by addressing
the concerns of journalists around the world over the failure
to take responsibility for the deaths of journalists and media
staff in Iraq.
"A prompt and convincing response to the questions raised
over these deaths will end speculation over the targeting of
journalists and media and provide irrefutable evidence for Iraqi
journalists and the people of Iraq that the democracy now in
the making will deliver justice for all," said White.
For further information please contact +32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110
countries International Federation of Journalists press release,
Brussels, in English, April 8, 2005 , BBC
Arab Working Team to Discuss Media Role in Confronting Terrorism
An Arab working team will meet on Monday (11 April) at the Arab
League HQ to discuss Arab media role in confronting terrorism.
The three-day meeting will be presided over by chairman of the
Arab information permanent committee Amin Basyuni and attended
by representatives from eight Arab countries -- Egypt, Bahrain,
Saudi Arabia, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon and Libya.
Discussions will focus on how to crystallize a joint vision
for the optimum way to make use of media programmes in facing
up to the phenomenon of terrorism.
The meeting will deal with working papers presented by several
Arab countries on the role of the Arab media as regards the
two phenomena of extremism and terrorism.
The team is to prepare a working paper on the issue in preparation
for referring it to the 76th ordinary meeting of the Arab information
permanent committee on 5-7 June.
The Arab summit recently in Algiers has condemned all forms
of terrorism. MENA news agency, Cairo, in English, April 10,
2005 , via BBC Monitoring.
Syrian Court Acquits Director of Al-Hayat-LBC's Office
-- Lebanese LBC TV
The Supreme State Security Court in Syria unanimously acquitted
the director of Al-Hayat-LBC's office, Ibrahim Hamidi,
from all charges against him, including the charge of reporting
news which he knew to be untrue and exaggerated.
Hamidi, who was detained for five months, said that he was acquitted
for lack of legal grounds or because he was included in the
general amnesty which President Bashar al-Asad had issued.
Hamidi was arrested in 2002, three days after writing an article
about the intention of Syrian authorities to receive Iraqi refugees
before the US war on Iraq to topple Saddam Husayn's regime,
which is what Syria denied after publishing the report. LBC
Sat TV, Beirut, in Arabic April 10, 2005, via BBC
Pakistan: Minister Calls for Islamic Digital Television Channel
Islamabad, 11 April: Pakistan Information Minister Shaykh Rashid
Ahmed on Monday [11 April) called upon the Muslim world to have
an OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference] digital television
channel for the projection and protection of the cause of ummah.
He was addressing a seminar on "Pak-Arab Media Dialogue
towards better Understanding" organized by Al-Jazeera television
The minister extended Pakistan's full support for a strong media
collaboration in the Muslim world.
"Pakistan and the Arab world are connected with each other
with common faith and media in our region is playing a positive
role in strengthening our relations."
Shaykh Rashid Ahmed said that media has provided the Muslim
world with the new arena for human interaction, economic expansion
and social and political manoeuvring, a breeding ground for
new ideas in culture.
He said media has played an important role in recent war in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
The official added that due to low literacy rate in the Arab
world and in Pakistan, the role of electronic media is more
important as the information is telecast to millions of people
"Media in Muslim countries has to shoulder its responsibility
to educate the masses enabling them not to pay heed towards
the biased coverage of the Western media."
Rashid said Pakistan and Arab world have to face the reality
and brace themselves to meet the challenges. IRNA web site,
Tehran, in English, April 12 2005 , via BBC Monitoring.
Qatar: Al Jazeera to broadcast live unedited conferences Doha,
12 April 2005: Al Jazeera is preparing to launch yet another
first in Arab broadcasting in the shape of Al Jazeera Mubashar
("live" in Arabic), a new specialized media service
that will air live conferences, meetings, discussions and other
gatherings covering political, social, cultural, economic and
other issues of relevance.
The new service is similar to C-Span in the USA, and will entail
neither anchor people nor an editing process.
The new service is expected to start transmission on 15 April
2005, and will take in Al Jazeera Television Production Festival,
an event planned to be held in Doha on 18-21 April 2005 as one
of its early broadcasts.
Managing Director Wadah Khanfar said that initially the service
will be received via Arabsat satellite, adding that plans are
afoot to widen the footprint by utilizing other satellites in
the near future.
Al Jazeera Mubashar joins existing media services namely its
flagship, the Arabic language news service, the two web sites
(in Arabic and English) and Al-Jazeera Sports. Al-Jazeera will
also be launching new services in Al Jazeera International (the
English language news service) as well as a documentary and
children's channels. Al Jazeera's Media Training and Development
Centre has been operational for over a year now, accommodating
media needs domestically and regionally. Al Jazeera TV press
release, Doha, in English, April 12, 2005, via BBC
Iran: Film Director Said to Have Plans for Satellite TV Network
A number of directors have said that they are prepared to make
campaign films for their favourite candidates running in the
Iranian presidential election scheduled for 17 June.
According to unofficial sources, director Behruz Afkhami will
make a campaign film for former Majlis Speaker Mahdi Karrubi.
He also plans to launch a satellite network to broadcast programmes
promoting Karrubi's candidacy, and it has been reported that
the channel has already sent test signals from Dubai.
I am doing this because of my personal inclination towards Karrubi,
said Afkhami, who was an MP during the Sixth Majlis (2000-2004)
when Karrubi was the speaker.
He originally planned to launch a London-based satellite television
network serving up a diet of politics from Iran and movies from
Hollywood. However, the plan displeased many Iranian conservatives
and he was not given the 400,000-dollar grant which some reports
said President Mohammad Khatami's office planned to give him.
Mehr news agency, Tehran, in English, April 13 2005 , via BBC
Qanat Al Mar'a Al Arabiya
Heya TV, now sporting its new title Qanat Al Mar'a Al Arabiya,
is to start rolling out its new programs.
"It is about time to introduce new programs and enrich
the existing ones," said Nicolas Abou Samah, president
of Qanat Al Mar'a Al Arabiya. The changes come one month after
the station released its initial declaration to changes were
apparently put on hold after Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri's
assassination. The springtime grid will feature new programs
such as Podium, Stars w Bass, The ABC of Sewing and Nisa' Fil
Wajiha presented by Sawsan Al Husseini who will showcase the
achievements of Arab women. Middle East Broadcasters Web site,
April 14, 2005.(www.mebshow.com).
that satellite services provider Arabsat is due to start construction
of its fourth-generation satellite Arabsat4A and Arabsat-4B.
Arabsat-4A is scheduled to enter service in November 2005 while
Arabsat-4B will follow in February 2006. Middle East Broadcasters
Web site (www.mebshow.com), April 14, 2005.
India: Star Brand Will Appear on Proposed Bengali Channel
Mumbai, 15 April: The Bengali new year, 15 April, has good news
for, who else but, Bengalis. A proposed Bengali channel from
the ABP Group-Rupert Murdoch combine is on its way, scheduled
to be put on air late April or early May, while plans for foraying
into select other Indian languages, including English, are being
The 24-hour Bengali news channel will also be co-branded. This
lays to rest speculations on the channel not carrying the Star
"We are expecting the formalities to be completed very
soon, including getting an uplink permission from India. After
that happens, it will be just a matter of time before we put
the Bengali channel on air. Internally, we are ready,"
Media Content & Communications Services India Pvt. Ltd (MCCS)
CEO Uday Shankar told Indiantelevision in an interview.
MCCS, a 74:26 per cent joint venture between the Aveek Sarkar-controlled
Kolkata-based ABP Group and Murdoch-promoted Star Group, manages
Star News channel. It has ambitions of creating a bouquet of
select other Indian language-specific news channels.
Dwelling on the company's expansion plans, Shankar said that
the company has drawn up plans to consolidate its position with
Star News even while tapping regional language markets with
channels that would have a "national outlook."
"We are in the process of evaluating what should be the
next move after the Bengali channel is put on air. But we certainly
have lined up several activities for this year," he added,
hinting that MCCS is investing afresh in technology, human resources
and, may be, even in distribution activities.
BBC's design arm BBC Broadcast Design, which was instrumental
in providing a new look for Star News in February, will be responsible
for the graphics and on-air look of the Bengali channel too.
On the programming front, the proposed channel will have a blend
of programming that is aimed at attracting Bengali speaking
audiences nationally. However, due focus on local (West Bengal-specific)
news too would be given as MCCS would like to capitalise on
the ABP Group's strong presence in eastern India.
The Kolkata-based company publishes The Telegraph in
English and the widely circulated Bengali newspaper Ananda Bazar
Patrika, both of whom have the ambition to be national dailies.
Indiantelevision.com web site, Mumbai, in English, April 15,
2005 , via BBC Monitoring.
Qatar: Al Jazeera Satellite Channel Live
15 April 2005, observations from BBCM Caversham confirm reception
of new digital free-to-air, Qatari Al Jazeera Satellite Channel
live (JSC Live). The leading Arab satellite television station,
launched its new service today. A station spokesman told the
BBC that JSC Live will focus on political, social and cultural
issues and will broadcast events live without editing or commentary.
The station is currently observed broadcasting to the Middle
East via the NileSat satellite located at 7 degrees west, on
the transponder frequency of 12284 MHz vertical polarisation,
Symbol Rate 27500, FEC 3/4.
The Lyngsat satellite information web site (www.lyngsat.com),
lists JSC Live as being available on transponder 123 from ArabSat
2D satellite located at 25. 8 degrees east, 10971 MHz horizontal
polarisation. BBCM has so far been unable to confirm this information.
As observed at BBCM on Friday 15 April, Al Jazeera Live carried
the funeral of Monaco's late Prince Ranier in full with no accompanying
commentary. This was later followed by live images of a small
demonstration in Beirut in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In between, the channel was showing promotional videos of the
upcoming Al Jazeera Production Festival which opens in Doha,
Qatar from 18- 22 April. The Festival is due to bring together
television productions from across the Arab world. In its Festival
promotion, Al Jazeera Live was reporting that it will carry
the sessions from the Festival.
Al Jazeera's newest channel also carried programming schedules
of the upcoming events it will show live throughout the day,
as well as a text of the latest news updates at the bottom of
the screen. BBC Monitoring research, in English, April 15, 2005,
via BBC Monitoring.
West Bank and Gaza: Head of satellite channel explains resignation
The media man, Mahir al-Rayyis, chairman of the Palestinian
satellite channel, has accused a well-known and well-organized
force, which he did not name, of seeking to impose hegemony
on the resources of the homeland. He pointed out that the Palestinian
satellite channel has become the target of prime importance
to the interests of these forces in order to marginalize and
then control it.
Al-Rayyis expressed his displeasure with the interference by
certain figures in the affairs of the satellite channel, particularly
in the issues of appointments, promotions, representatives,
and others, irrespective of requirements and qualifications.
He complained that employees are being turned against each other,
which has spread hatred, grudges, and chaos, as happened in
many other official institutions.
Al-Rayyis confirmed that he submitted his resignation as head
of the channel to Dr Nabil Sha'th, deputy prime minister and
minister of information, on Wednesday last week. He attributed
his written resignation to the extreme financial restrictions
being applied to the Palestinian satellite channel and the Palestinian
Radio and Television Corporation ever since he assumed his duties
over four years ago, including delegating to him the duty of
spending for the corporation and the channel together.
Al-Rayyis clarified that among the results of the financial
limitations is that the channel cannot be watched by its viewers
in the western half of the globe through the two satellites,
Telestar 5 and Telestar 12, because the subscription fees have
not been paid to the company owning the above-mentioned two
satellites. He noted that he repeatedly called on all concerned
sides to do what was necessary. In addition, the subscription
fees have also not been paid to the Egyptian satellite company
NileSat and the Arab satellite company Arabsat. And there has
been a great deal of stalling and prevarication in paying the
dues to those who have imported equipment to the corporation
and the channel, which has made both lose their credibility
before others. In addition, there is no funding for replacing
equipment and tools and buying spare parts. Al-Rayyis clarified
that there is some contradiction between the ceiling of expectations
regarding the performance of our visual media and the provision
of the basic minimum financial and technical requirements for
He confirmed that there was a secret war against the satellite
channel, which became clearer after certain Israeli sides accused
it of waging a war of hatred and incitement to violence, terrorism,
He added that while the satellite channel was being awarded
prizes in the Arab [media] festivals, some of our writers, columnists,
and a few specific radio announcers here were waging campaigns
against the Palestinian satellite channel and holding it responsible
for all the Islamic, Arab, and Palestinian media failures without
knowing that the Palestinian satellite channel was deprived
of most of its operating budget for many years. It did not manage
to cover its basic need for video tapes. It was forced to use
its tapes from the archives on many occasions and started suffering
from the phenomenon of distorted transmission because of worn
out tapes and equipment. The hypothetical age of these tapes
and equipment had elapsed a long time ago, despite the directives
from President Mahmud Abbas, which were clear and decisive regarding
the need to overcome the obstacles that prevent our work from
The chairman expressed his pride in the employees of the Radio
and Television Corporation and the Palestinian satellite channel
and for those he has worked with in the various positions he
has occupied since 1999 as director of the general department
for political affairs and news, then acting general coordinator
of the Palestinian Radio and Television Corporation and head
of the Palestinian satellite channel, and finally his confirmation
as chairman of the Palestinian satellite channel on 17 July
2004 to the date of his resignation.
He said that quite a substantial number of them have great potential
in the visual media field and what they lack is financial resources,
equipment, tools, and training. These are the things he tried
to acquire as much as he could with all his might, but got very
little. The head of the satellite channel wished whoever succeeds
him success and achievement in carrying this trust further.
Al-Hayat al-Jadidah, Ramallah, in Arabic, April 14, 2005,
via BBC Monitoring.
MPs Call for Expulsion of Al Jazeera TV's Staff After Unrest
in Southwest Iran
Tehran, 17 April: Following the distribution of a fake letter
in Khuzestan Province, a number of MPs representing Khuzestan
in the Majlis called on the interior minister on Sunday 17 April
to expel the employees of Qatar's Al-Jazeera television network
from Iran for their measures meant to provoke Iranian nationals
of Arab origin to rise up against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
[Passage omitted]. Mehr news agency, Tehran, in English, April
17, 2005 via BBC Monitoring.
Iran: Minister Blames "Subversive" TV Channels for
The information (intelligence) minister has announced that 200
people have been arrested in the recent Ahvaz unrest. Ali Yunesi
was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting of
the governors of the country at the Interior Ministry. He said
that all the influencing elements and behind-the-scenes agents
who were provoked by subversive television channels and caused
the recent clashes in Ahvaz have been identified and arrested.
Al-Jazeera television channel has been the leading [provocative]
foreign television channel on this issue. [Passage omitted].
Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, Tehran, in Persian, April
18. 2005, via BBC Monitoring.
Al Jazeera TV's Activities in Iran Suspended Until Further
[Presenter] Now, before you hear the second segment of the news
bulletin from Kamran Najafzadeh, let me draw your attention
to a special news item: The Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry
announced an hour ago that the activity of Al Jazeera TV in
Iran is hereby suspended until the network's role in the recent
events in Ahvaz becomes clear. (Ahvaz, in southwest Iran, was
the scene of protests by ethnic Arabs on 16-17 April.) Vision
of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 2, Tehran, in Persian,
April 18, 2005, via BBC
Iranian official comments on suspension of Al Jazeera's activities
[Presenter] The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
reacting to the discord-sowing and destructive activities of
Al-Jazeera TV, has halted the network's activities in Iran.
This network tried in the recent events in the city of Ahvaz
to propagate sectarianism and separatism, and to inflict a blow
on Iran's national security.
The Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry had also warned this
network two months ago to desist from destructive activities
against Iran's national security; otherwise, its offices in
Iran would be shut down.
Mr Khoshvaqt, director-general in charge of foreign media at
the Culture and Islamic Guidance ministry, told the radio correspondent
the following about the order to halt the activities of Al Jazeera
TV in Iran.
[Khoshvaqt] From today, we have fully suspended the activities
of Al Jazeera TV in Iran and ordered a complete halt to operations
at Al Jazeera's representative office in Tehran until our investigations
are completed and it becomes clear to what extent Al Jazeera
was active in connection with the unrest that occurred in Ahvaz.
After (as heard) the presentation of clear and adequate explanations
by Al Jazeera, the activities of this representative office
in Iran will be in suspension and the continuation of its activities
will depend on our decision after the nature of the network's
conduct becomes clear.
Our expectation is that this network should carry out its news
activities in the framework of professional conduct and to respect
Iran's national unity and national security in its activities.
If it is proved that Al Jazeera TV has committed an offence,
it will definitely by prosecutable and the body responsible
will be the honourable Foreign Ministry. Voice of the Islamic
Republic of Iran, Tehran, in Persian, April 18, 2005, via BBC
TV Regrets Iranian Decision to Suspend Tehran Office
Al Jazeera's office in the Iranian capital, Tehran, has received
a verbal notification from the Iranian authorities, asking it
to suspend its media activities temporarily. The government-owned
television station in Tehran quoted an official at the Ministry
of Islamic Culture and Guidance as saying that the Al Jazeera
channel's activities had been suspended to investigate its role
in the incidents that took place in the Ahvaz region, and that
the channel would be sued if it were proven that it had committed
While regretting this surprise decision, Al Jazeera reiterates
that it will continue to pursue its well-known professional
line, which is based on the principle of allowing views and
counterviews to be aired. Furthermore, the Al Jazeera channel
affirms to its viewers that it will continue to cover Iraqi
developments comprehensively and objectively and in a balanced
manner. It also urges the Iranian authorities to reconsider
the decision to suspend its office's activities in Tehran. Al
Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic, April 18, 2005, via BBC
Al Jazeera Launches TV Production Festival
Al Jazeera TV launched a four-day Festival of Television Production
in Doha, Qatar, showcasing "two hundred and seventy-nine
documentary, social, promotional, and talk show works"
in what channel officials claimed was the first event of its
kind. Al-Hayat, April 18, 2005, p.21.
Iranian Radio Lists Al Jazeera TV's "Offences"
The activities of Al Jazeera TV have been completely suspended.
The Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry director-general for
media affairs (Mohammad Hoseyn Khoshvaqt) said: Following the
broadcasting by Qatar's Al Jazeera TV network of programmes
that were divisive and contravened Iran's national security,
the network's activities in Iran have been suspended and its
office in Tehran closed.
Mr Khoshvaqt added: Until it becomes clear to what extent Al
Jazeera TV spread lies in the course of the recent unrest in
Ahvaz, the network's activities in Iran will be suspended and,
if the offence is proved, the Foreign Ministry will follow it
Propaganda aimed at changing the name of the Persian Gulf, interfering
in Iran's internal affairs by broadcasting divisive reports
and trying to create ethnic discord are some of the network's
The Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry had also cautioned
the network two months ago to desist from activities harmful
to Iran's national security; otherwise, its offices in Iran
would be closed. Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran,
in Persian, April 19, 2005, via BBC
Syria Denies Pressurizing Alhurra TV Over Talk Show Guest Choice
Alhurra Television yesterday said that it had decided to
stop its live "Free hour" programme from Syria because
the channel had come under pressure with regard to its freedom
to choose its guests.
Answering a question on this by the Syrian Arab News Agency,
SANA, Dr Nizar Mayhub, director of foreign information at the
Ministry of Information, said that the ministry had offered
all possible facilities to Alhurrah. The evidence is that the
first episode of the programme was a success, as the channel
itself admitted, he said.
Dr Mayhub said a number of people who were supposed to appear
on the remaining three episodes of the programme are temporarily
away from Syria. This indicates that the Alhurra team did not
coordinate with the participants in advance. This forced the
channel to cancel its programme without any interference from
the Foreign Information Department or any other Syrian quarter.
Dr Mayhub pointed out that the first episode of the programme
on Syria reflected a climate of openness and freedom in which
intellectuals and media figures expressed their views on the
Syrian media in full freedom. Al-Thawrah Web site, Damascus,
in Arabic, April 20 2005, via BBC
Spanish judge orders "temporary release" of Al Jazeera
"[Spanish] Chief justice of the court trying colleague
Taysir Alluni orders his temporary release without putting him
under house arrest," Qatari Al Jazeera satellite TV reported
in a "breaking news" screen caption at 0950 gmt on
22 April. Al Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic, April 22 2005, via
Announces Funding for Arabic-Language TV
of a revamp of the BBC World Service, £20 million in annual
funding is to be made available for a 24-hour television news
service in Arabic. Independent, April 25, 2005.
Israeli Officials Said to Express "Dismay" Over Award
for BBC Reporter
Israeli officials have expressed dismay that BBC reporter
Orla Guerin, who has come under sharp attack for what some perceive
as an anti-Israeli bias in her coverage, will receive an MBE
honour from the British government for "outstanding service
Diaspora Affairs Minister Natan Sharansky, who last year wrote
a formal letter of complaint to the BBC over Guerin's coverage,
said it is a pity that the absence of anti-Semitism was not
a criterion for the award.
If it were, he said, Guerin would not be receiving the honour.
The MBE stands for Member of the British Empire, one of a number
of honours issued each year by the queen.
"It is very sad that something as important as anti-Semitism
is not taken into consideration when issuing this award, especially
in Britain where the incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise,"
Guerin, when contacted Wednesday, would not speak without receiving
permission from her home office in London. A phone query to
the BBC offices in London, followed -- as requested - by an
e-mail with a short description of the line of questioning,
did not yield a response from either the BBC or Guerin.
According to the Sunday Times, the 38-year-old Guerin
will be presented the award by Baroness Symons, the minister
of state for the Middle East in the British Foreign Office.
According to this report, Guerin, who has spent 10 years reporting
from war-torn countries, was to receive the honour last year,
but the ceremony was postponed so she could report from Ramallah
on Yasir Arafat's funeral.
In addition to Jerusalem, she has also reported from Kosovo,
Grozny, Moscow and the Basque country.
One Israeli official, who responded to the news by saying he
was "shocked", said Guerin is among the most anti-Israeli
journalists reporting from Israel today.
According to this official, granting her an award fits into
a pattern that began in 2003 when the United Kingdom's Political
Cartoon Society awarded Dave Brown of the Independent its "cartoon
of the year" award for a cartoon he drew depicting a naked
Ariel Sharon biting off the bloodied head of a Palestinian child.
"It seems if you are anti-Israel, you will get an award,"
the official said.
Last year, in response to one of Guerin's dispatches about Israel's
capture of a mentally challenged 16-year-old would-be suicide
bomber, Sharansky wrote the BBC that it employs a "gross
double standard to the Jewish state" that smacks of anti-Semitism.
Sharansky protested that Guerin, in her report, portrayed the
event as "Israel's cynical manipulation of a Palestinian
youngster for propaganda purposes". He said this "reveals
a deep-seated bias against Israel. Only a total identification
with the goals and methods of the Palestinian terror groups
would drive a reporter to paint Israel in such an unflattering
light instead of placing the focus on the bomber and the organization
that recruited him".
The report, he said, "has not only set a new standard for
biased journalism, it has also raised concerns that it was tainted
In his letter, Sharansky quoted Guerin as describing to viewers
how the IDF (Israel Defence Forces)"paraded the child in
front of the international media", then "produced"
the child for reporters, "posed" him a second time
for the cameras and then "rushed him back into a jeep."
Likewise, the Evening Standard, which interviewed Guerin in
2003, wrote that she "questioned Israel's claim to be a
democracy, compared its press freedom with Zimbabwe's and accused
its officials of paranoia."
During that interview, Guerin, referring to a period that year
when Israel refused to cooperate with the BBC, said "I
can't imagine any other government thinking like that -- Zimbabwe
is the comparison. I'm absolutely stunned that they think it's
"Israel talks regularly - at this point, in my view, with
less justification -- about being the only democracy in the
Middle East," she said. "But how can you still be
a democracy and try to harass the press? This is not how a democracy
behaves." The Jerusalem Post web site, in English, April
25, 2005, via BBC Monitoring.
Palestinian Information Minister Given Responsibility for Official
Gaza, 26 April: President Mahmud Abbas issued a presidential
decree this evening transferring responsibility for the Palestinian
Broadcasting Corporation [PBC] and the Palestine Satellite Channel
[PSC] from the chairmanship of the PLO Executive Committee and
the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority [PNA] to
the minister of information. Following is the text of the decree:
Decree No. (not given) for 2005
Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, president of the PNA
In accordance with the authority vested in us and with a view
to upholding public interest, we have decreed the following:
The responsibility for the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation
shall be transferred from the chairmanship of the PLO Executive
Committee and the presidency of the PNA to the information minister
with the aim of placing all official media outlets and agencies
under one authority.
The responsibility for the Palestine Satellite Channel shall
be transferred to the information minister in the same manner
and for the purpose of unifying the official Palestinian media.
All concerned authorities, each according to its powers, must
implement the provisions of this decree which shall be effective
as of its issuance in the official gazette.
Issued in the city of Gaza on 26 April 2005.
Palestinian news agency Wafa Web site, Gaza, in Arabic,
April 26, 2005, via BBC