Satellite Chronicle
December 2005

By: Raya Shokatfard

Afghanistan

09/12/2005 Afghan pundit says violence against journalists declining

Text of report by Afghan independent Tolo TV on 9 December

[Correspondent] Threat and violence against journalists have relatively declined. Mohammad Zia Bomia, a member of the Independent Journalists Union, has said that presently the major risk for journalists is self-censorship, which should be avoided. He also said that a number of journalists did not want to reveal the truth.

[Mohammad Zia Bomia in Pashto] Thank God, violence and threat against journalists have been declining. Obviously; in the past, journalists were threatened and insulted a lot. Although at present violence and threat have not been entirely removed, but now they are endangered by self-censorship.

Source: Tolo TV, Kabul, in Dari 1330 gmt 9 Dec 05

EGYPT

01/12/2005 Egypt: Security forces detain Al-Jazeera cameramen, destroy tape

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 1 December

The third and final phase of the Egyptian legislative elections was accompanied by incidents of violence. French news agencies quoted a medical source as saying that an Egyptian citizen was killed by police gunfire during clashes that erupted in the town of Baltim in Kfar al-Shaykh Governorate. During this round of elections, which is being held in nine governorates, there were complaints about the security forces preventing voters from entering the polling stations.

Meanwhile, the Al-Jazeera correspondent in Kfar al-Shaykh reported that the security forces held the Al-Jazeera cameramen for a while and destroyed the crew's recorded videotape.

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1500 gmt 1 Dec 05

IRAQ

02/12/2005 Al-Jazeera reports further on allegations of US planting articles in Iraqi press

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 2 December

Bombing plans are no longer the only way of responding to media outlets. According to the Los Angeles [LA] Times, some in the US military establishment have chosen a different method of avoiding news and information that contradicts Washington's policy and of portraying the United States the way it wants to be. This is the method of payments, or bribery, which was recently exposed, only to add to the Bush administration's sense of embarrassment over the past few days due to reports of plans that had been discussed with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to bomb Al-Jazeera channel's offices.

The details the LA Times published quote Pentagon officials on the formation this year of a team called the Information Operations Task Force, which secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-US articles written by US servicemen. The team also purchased an Iraqi newspaper and has taken control of a radio station in Baghdad for the same purpose.

This circle of reports grew larger and larger when a US media group called Knight Ridder reported that the US army had paid Iraqi journalists as much as 200 dollars for each article in praise of the coalition forces. What was remarkable was that none of the US army's spokesmen denied the controversial report, instead, some of them tried to justify it by saying that the LA Times report reflects part of the agenda adopted by the multinational forces in Iraq, which seeks to convey accurate information on operations there and counter the lies and deception spread through the news by those the spokesman referred to as insurgents.

The White House was quick to express its deep concern, and demanded clarification from the Department of Defence. Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, said that such reports, if proven to be correct, would harm the independence of Iraqi media and undermine the credibility of the United States. [video shows US forces in Iraqi streets, footage from a White House press briefing]

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1406 gmt 2 Dec 05

IRAN

01/12/2005 Iranian paper says new satellite channel hires dissident journalist

Text of report by Iranian newspaper Kayhan website on 1 December

Saba satellite channel will be funded by revenue generated from advertisements placed by companies in Dubai and secular groups inside and outside of the country.

Behruz Afkhamai, the managing-director of this satellite channel which is owned by Mehdi Karrubi told MEHR News Agency that 300m tomans have been invested in this project. He said: I hope we cover our cost by attracting advertisements from business outside of Iran, especially those in Dubai.

He said the reason for deciding against the use of a female actress as the announcer of the programme was the inability to pay her fee.

Also commenting about a reporter who had been banned from covering the parliament, due to some transgressions, he said: The reporter has been hired by Karrubi' satellite company. Afkhami also said: Shamsolva'ezin and Mas'ud Behnud (who is living in London) will work as analysts for the satellite channel.

It seems that this channel will be a gathering place for those who have been rejected by the people and their representatives.

Source: Kayhan website, Tehran, in Persian 1 Dec 05

Israel

01/12/2005 Israeli army arrests Al-Jazeera correspondent in Hebron - Iranian agency

Al-Khalil [Hebron], 1 December: The Israeli occupation army on Wednesday [30 December] arrested a Palestinian journalist who works for the TV channel Al-Jazeera's Arabic service as well as several local and international media staff.

Palestinian sources told IRNA that crack Israeli soldiers and Shin Beth (Israel's domestic intelligence service) officers stormed Awad Rajub's home in the southern West Bank town of Dura shortly before dawn.

The soldiers reportedly searched his home thoroughly, took him away and confiscated his personal computer, telephone book and other personal papers.

Rajub, 28, is a cousin of Palestinian [National] Authority official Jibril Rajub. Rajub graduated from Qatar University a few years ago and had never been arrested before.

An Israeli army spokesman, Avi-Chai Adruaie, said Rajub was arrested for reasons unrelated to his journalistic profession.

"All I can tell you is that he was arrested for security reasons because he possessed information the army needs."

Israel has already arrested a number of Palestinian journalists who are now detained at the Kitziot detention camp in southern Israel. Source: IRNA website, Tehran

EGYPT

05/12/2005 New head of Egyptian broadcast union appointed

Major-General Ahmad Anis has been appointed chairman of the board of trustees of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU), according to a report by Egyptian news agency MENA on 5 December.

Egyptian Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi was quoted as saying that Anis's appointment was part of "a policy that aims at introducing new leaderships into the media field to upgrade and develop the performance of this sector".

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 1505 gmt 5 Dec 05

IRAN

04/12/2005 Iran's state broadcaster seeking its own satellite

The first satellite exclusively for the use of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) could be launched in two years time, according to a report in the Iran newspaper on 4 December.

The report quoted an IRIB official, Hasan Taqaddosnezhad, as saying that a proposal for this project had been submitted to the government and Majlis two months ago. If approved by the Majlis, the national broadcaster would have its own independent satellite. The official said that it was hoped that, with government support, the 200-million dollar cost of the project could be met from the foreign currency reserve fund.

Taqaddosnezhad added that the world was currently facing a media war and Iran needed an independent satellite to transmit the message of the Islamic revolution and represent the civilization and culture of Islamic Iran. He said the satellite would meet the latest technical standards and would cover Asian, European and American countries. He hoped the government and Majlis would cooperate and allow the national media to launch its own satellite so it could have an active international presence.

The report added that the state broadcaster was also planning a move from analogue to digital broadcasting and extending the nationwide coverage of various networks.

Source: Iran website, Tehran, in Persian 4 Dec 05

IRAN

06/12/2005 Iran: A number of journalists among those killed in plane crash

Text of report by Iranian Mehr news agency on 6 December 2005

A number of correspondents, including those of the Voice and Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran [VVIRI], have been killed in the C-130 plane crash in [Tehran], Mehr News Agency reports.

According to Mehr News Agency, quoting the Central News Unit, as a consequence of the crash, a number of correspondents have been killed, including those from the Central News Unit, the News Network of the VVIRI, ISNA, IRNA and Fars News Agency as well as cameramen and technical staff of the VVIRI.

On Tuesday [6 December]at 1345 [local time, 1015 gmt], the C-130 of the military of the Islamic Republic of Iran was on its return flight to Tehran when, while approaching Mehrabad Airport, owing to technical problems it came down at the Azari crossroad and crashed into residential buildings.

Source: Mehr news agency, Tehran, in Persian 1212 gmt 6 Dec 05

IRAN

06/12/2005 Iran to go ahead with manoeuvre without media coverage - agency

Text of report by Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) website

The head of the public relations department of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran Military [Persian: Military] has said: The Devotees of Velayat [Guardianship] manoeuvre is to be held without being covered by reporters and the media.

Talking to ILNA, Col Shahin Taqikhani expressed his sincere regret for the incident [the crash of C-130 plane in Tehran] and added: Up to now the decision to go ahead with the manoeuvre has not changed and everyone should contribute so that some people would not take advantage of the situation.

The officer added: If we do not go ahead with the manoeuvre, some might take it as a weakness, and I hope that the families and relatives of those killed in the incident will be pleased with the start of the manoeuvre.

Col Taqikhani added: Some of those who lost their lives in the incident were among the best people in the media and Brig-Gen [Abbas] Va'ezi [deputy commander of the Military for public relations, killed in the crash] was a warrior who fought the enemy for years during the holy war [Iran-Iraq war], but offered his life to his homeland in the arena of information dissemination.

Finally, he talked about Mohammad Sadeq Nili, a Fars News Agency correspondent, and said: He was a devoted hardworking young journalist who contributed to the enhancement of earlier manoeuvres and fully covered them.

Source: Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), Tehran, in Persian 1704 gmt 6 Dec 05

EGYPT

01/12/2005 Egypt: Security forces detain Al-Jazeera cameramen, destroy tape

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 1 December

The third and final phase of the Egyptian legislative elections was accompanied by incidents of violence. French news agencies quoted a medical source as saying that an Egyptian citizen was killed by police gunfire during clashes that erupted in the town of Baltim in Kfar al-Shaykh Governorate. During this round of elections, which is being held in nine governorates, there were complaints about the security forces preventing voters from entering the polling stations.

Meanwhile, the Al-Jazeera correspondent in Kfar al-Shaykh reported that the security forces held the Al-Jazeera cameramen for a while and destroyed the crew's recorded videotape.

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1500 gmt 1 Dec 05

IRAQ

02/12/2005 Al-Jazeera reports further on allegations of US planting articles in Iraqi press

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 2 December

Bombing plans are no longer the only way of responding to media outlets. According to the Los Angeles [LA] Times, some in the US military establishment have chosen a different method of avoiding news and information that contradicts Washington's policy and of portraying the United States the way it wants to be. This is the method of payments, or bribery, which was recently exposed, only to add to the Bush administration's sense of embarrassment over the past few days due to reports of plans that had been discussed with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to bomb Al-Jazeera channel's offices.

The details the LA Times published quote Pentagon officials on the formation this year of a team called the Information Operations Task Force, which secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-US articles written by US servicemen. The team also purchased an Iraqi newspaper and has taken control of a radio station in Baghdad for the same purpose.

This circle of reports grew larger and larger when a US media group called Knight Ridder reported that the US army had paid Iraqi journalists as much as 200 dollars for each article in praise of the coalition forces. What was remarkable was that none of the US army's spokesmen denied the controversial report, instead, some of them tried to justify it by saying that the LA Times report reflects part of the agenda adopted by the multinational forces in Iraq, which seeks to convey accurate information on operations there and counter the lies and deception spread through the news by those the spokesman referred to as insurgents.

The White House was quick to express its deep concern, and demanded clarification from the Department of Defence. Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, said that such reports, if proven to be correct, would harm the independence of Iraqi media and undermine the credibility of the United States. [video shows US forces in Iraqi streets, footage from a White House press briefing]

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1406 gmt 2 Dec 05

IRAQ

01/12/2005 USA/Iraq: US military reportedly planted articles in Iraqi media

Text of report in English by VOA News.com website on 1 December

The White House has expressed concern about reports that the US military paid Iraqi newspapers to run pro-American stories about the war and rebuilding effort.

Spokesman Scott McClellan Thursday [1 December] said the White House is seeking more information from the Defense Department.

The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday first reported the programme to plant articles in Iraqi media. It reported that American soldiers wrote the articles and presented them to Iraqi media as unbiased accounts from independent journalists.

The Defense Department said it is looking into the matter. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he sent inquiries to military officials in Iraq about the alleged activity. He added that, if true, some of the activities are troubling.

Source: VOA News.com website, Washington D.C., in English 1 Dec 05

IRAQ

04/12/2005 Iraq journalists to investigate reports of US planted stories

Text of live telephone interview with Mu'ayyad al-Lami, secretary of the Iraqi Journalists Association, in Baghdad; by anchor Luna al-Shibl, in the Doha studio, carried by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 4 December

[Al-Shibl] The Iraqi Journalists Association said that it is investigating reports that the US forces offered bribes to run articles written by US officials in Iraqi newspapers. In a statement of which Al-Jazeera received a copy, the association said that it will not hesitate to expel, expose, and scandalize anyone who was followed this shameful path of the few people who sold their national and professional conscience to the occupier. What is the use of such investigations especially since Washington did not clearly deny them?

[Al-Lami] First of all I must note that Iraqi journalists are honest and honourable, but what we heard about bribes offered to some journalists or [indistinct word], is a big catastrophe that does not relate to the ethics and honour of the practice and the by-laws of the Iraqi Journalists Association. Therefore, we have decided to open a big investigation to verify these allegations in the first place. We do know that there are some bad elements that exist in every community, group, and practice. Therefore, I believe that this investigation is very useful because we will expose some people although I consider them to be very few who acted in such a cheap way that reflects the weakens of their ethics and professionalism.

[Al-Shibl] Since this information was circulated in Iraq, most journalists in Iraq insisted on saying that these articles do not express the reality in anyway. If so, why did not the association investigate about those who write such articles which do not express the reality before the Los Angles Times published them?

[Al-Lami] My dear lady: Iraq is now experiencing an atmosphere of freedom of opinion and democracy but there is also chaos. More than 200 newspapers are published in Baghdad. Accordingly, the association, with its capabilities, tried to ensure the professional conduct of newspapers in a logical and good manner. However, some newspapers started to write in a cheap way and some other newspapers started to run inauthentic articles as US reports indicated in order to beautify the image of the occupier in our country especially in view of its huge mistakes and killing of hundreds, and thousands of Iraqis. This is why we previously told many colleagues that they must not follow this path, telling them that they are patriotic, impartial, and professional and should not follow this path. We told them that they should distance themselves from politics and the occupation forces, which killed many dear colleagues in Iraq. More than 70 journalists were killed in Iraq most of whom were killed by the US forces let alone the wounded or the handicapped who have not been paid a compensation by those forces which fortify themselves with a Security Council resolution, regretfully.

[Al-Shibl] Thank you very much.

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1311 gmt 4 Dec 05

IRAN

04/12/2005 Iran to launch website, TV on the occasion of Haj pilgrimage

Text of report by Iranian daily newspaper Farhang-e Ashti website on 3 December

The TV and internet network Labbayk [Answering the call of God] is to be launched by the Haj and Pilgrimage Organization on 12 Azar [3 December, as published].

According to ISNA, this TV and internet network will be opened before the start of Haj pilgrimage. The TV is going to broadcast programmes for three hours a day but this will be increased to six hours a day later.

Iranian radio-TV chairman Ezzatollah Zarghami and Hojjat ol-Eslam [Mohammad Mohammadi-]Reyshahri will be present at the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony will be held Saturday [3 December] morning at the conference hall of the Radio and Television Organization.

[According to the channel's website, www.labbaik.ir, daily broadcasts are planned from 0830-1130 and 1800-2100, local times. The channel's live internet stream, at tv.labbaik.ir, was not accessible on 5 December.]

Source: Farhang-e Ashti website, Tehran, in Persian 3 Dec 05

IRAQ

14/12/2005 Iraqis, Hezbollah protest Al-Jazeera's treatment of Al-Sistani - TV

Lebanese Hezbollah TV Al-Manar carries within its 1730 gmt newscast on 14 December a four-minute report by its correspondent in Iraq on "angry" Iraqi reactions to the alleged slander of Shi'i cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Al-Jazeera's "Opposite Direction" talk show which was broadcast on 13 December and hosted by Al-Jazeera presenter Faysal al-Qasim.

Al-Manar correspondent begins the report by saying that "massive demonstrations" were staged in Al-Najaf, Al-Sadr City, Basra and other places in Iraq today. The correspondent says that the treatment of Al-Sistani "has hurt the feelings of thousands of Iraqis who respect Al-Sistani for his role in protecting Iraq and its political process against slipping into chaos and civil war".

The correspondent adds that notwithstanding the tight security measures taken in preparation for the Iraqi legislative elections on 15 December, the demonstrators took to the streets to call on the Iraqi government to file a lawsuit against Al-Jazeera for "slandering" the Iraqi people's "symbols".

Following this, Al-Manar TV reports on reactions by Iraqi leaders and officials, such as Muqtada al-Sadr and former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who condemned the treatment of Al-Sistani.

At 1741 gmt, Al-Manar carries a report saying that Hezbollah in Lebanon has issued a statement condemning the "slander" of Al-Sistani.

The Hezbollah statement said that the "slander" is "a deviation from values and ethics that Arabs and Muslims in particular, and people all over the world in general, exhibit in dealing with spiritual and religious authorities".

The statement added: "What happened in the programme is a serious affront to the truth, objectivity, credibility and the media code of honour."

The statement concluded by calling on Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel to "immediately apologize" and "provide the necessary clarification" of this rejected conduct which "hurt the feelings of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims".

Source: Al-Manar Television, Beirut, in Arabic 1730 gmt 14 Dec 05

AFGHANISTAN

15/12/2005 Afghanistan: New satellite TV channel preparing to launch

Text of report by Pakistani newspaper Dawn website on 15 December

Peshawar, 14 December: Afghanistan is launching a new satellite channel for the Pashto and Dari-speaking people. "Three satellite channels have been launched in Afghanistan since Hamid Karzai came to power," said Shah Nawaz Janbaz, a former head of the BBC Pashto Service in Peshawar.

Mr Janbaz has arrived from Australia to take up his assignment as director of the new channel. He is holding meetings with PTV officials in Peshawar to purchase dramas and other programmes for the channel, which is to start operations in two months.

"We have already obtained licences and completed other formalities for the channel to be based in Kabul," he said, adding that Pakistani drama is extremely popular in Afghanistan. PTV producer Syed Masud Ahmad Shah's dramas are widely watched by people there, especially the young generation.

Source: Dawn website, Karachi, in English 15 Dec 05

IRAQ

15/12/2005 Iraqi TV station condemns police attack on cameraman

Text of report by Iraqi Al-Sharqiyah TV on 15 December

Some Iraqi policemen have attacked Al-Sharqiyah's cameraman Hasan Abdallah as he was performing the duty of reporting the truth to the spectators. The incident took place as the cameraman was filming part of an assault by a number of policemen against polling centre officers in Al-Kindi Preparatory School in Al-Yarmuk area at 1315 [1015 gmt today]. When the policemen realized that their assault was filmed by an Al-Sharqiyah camera, they savagely attacked cameraman Hasan Abdallah and the accompanying work team, beat him up and broke his camera. This was one of the ugliest images of degrading human and press freedom, which contradicts all promises made by the interior minister before the holding of the elections and this morning.

Reporting this incident to its audience, Al-Sharqiyah Television expects the [Iraqi] Police to apologize. It also calls on the interior minister to intervene to bring to justice the policemen involved [in the attack] before this case is forgotten along with other cases of human and press rights.

God be with the Iraqi individual who is subjected to the brutality of some police members without even being able to raise his voice if this is how they [police members] deal with the independent national media.

Al-Sharqiyah considers this savage attack against cameraman Hasan Abdallah, causing him bruises, as a new flagrant attack against the independent national media. Nobody should expect Al-Sharqiyah Television to change its national and brave approach, regardless of the increasing pressure exercised on it by those who are supposed to be the vanguards of law.

Source: Al-Sharqiyah, Baghdad, in Arabic 1100 gmt 15 Dec 05

IRAN

18/12/2005 Iranian cleric society condemns media war against Iraq's Sistani

Text of report in English by Iranian TV news channel on 18 December

The Society of Lecturers in the Qom Seminary has denounced the insulting remarks by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV network, against Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

In a statement, the seminary stressed that Al-Jazeera TV network, by insulting the Shi'i clergy, is moving in line with the interests of hegemonic powers. The society reiterated that the Shi'i senior clerics have fulfilled their religious duty and played a historic role in preserving the unity and integrity of Iraq and now the enemies of the Iraqi nation have launched a media war against them [the clerics].

Source: Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, Tehran, in English 1130 gmt 18 Dec 05

IRAN

18/12/2005 Iran TV says Al-Jazeera following Zionist policies

Text of report in English by Iranian TV news channel on 18 December

In line with its policy of creating crisis in the region, Al-Jazeera has aired a programme on the capability of Iran's attack on US allies in the region.

Following the policies of Western media and Zionist broadcasting corporations, in sawing discord among Muslims, Al-Jazeera TV network, quoting an anonymous official at the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council [as received] claimed Iran's nuclear activities have military purposes.

Moreover, Al-Jazeera also attempted to portray Iran's nuclear activities as dangerous for the region. It quoted the same anonymous source as saying concerns over Iran's nuclear activities have spread across the region.

Source: Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, Tehran, in English 1130 gmt 18 Dec 05

AFGHANISTAN

18/12/2005 Afghan journalist allegedly killed for outspoken criticism of officials

Text of report in English by Afghan independent Pajhwok news agency website

Mazar-e-Sharif, 18 December: Afghanistan's independent journalists' body on Sunday [18 December] claimed that a television journalist was killed last night in mysterious circumstances in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. But family and police, spurning the version, insisted the newsman died of cardiac arrest.

The Afghan Independent Journalists Association [AIJA] said in a press statement issued here that Ahmad Faheem Ehsan, who presented a TV programme critical of local officials, was killed mysteriously. It added that the family of the deceased was too scared of the local authorities to tell the whole truth about Faheem's killing.

Presenting "Our City, Our Home" on the state-run television, Faheem would often spotlight weaknesses of governmental and non-governmental organizations active in the region. His family said the journalist died of a heart attack on his way to hospital.

Nasruddin, a member of the family, told Pajhwok Afghan News while standing besides the body of the journalist in Karat-e-Solh area: "Faheem had gone to Marmul district for filing a story and returned home at 9.00 p.m.[1630 gmt], complaining of chest pain. He died on the way to hospital."

Sher Jan Durrani, spokesman for the provincial police, also vehemently rejected the claim that Faheem was killed. But journalists doubted the version that he died of cardiac arrest. Kanishka, editor of the daily Sahar [local paper], said: "I don't know the exact cause of his death. But if Faheem has really been killed, it is a shock for journalists and a sign of efforts to gag the media."

The AIJA statement also said Faheem had been beaten several times by local officials for presenting programmes critical of them. Rahimullah Samandar, head of the AIJA, said they had sent an investigating team to Mazar-e-Sharif to probe the incident and interact closely with his family. "If he has been killed, the perpetrators have to be arrested as soon as possible," stressed Samandar.

Faheem's predecessor, Najibullah Qureshi, had flown to London after he was beaten by unidentified men.

Source: Pajhwok Afghan News website, Kabul, in English 1137 gmt 18 Dec 05

IRAN

19/12/2005 Iran: Presidential directive sets out guidelines for state broadcaster

President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad has issued a directive on the activities of Iran's state broadcaster. The directive says that the organization must find more effective ways to promote Islamic values and neutralize "unsavoury foreign information dissemination". It says "banal and Western music" should be avoided and stresses the need for "ethical" content in feature films and series. While stating that inadequate attention is paid to the middle classes, it warns of a tendency towards "opulence and promoting consumerism". The directive also says the organization should do more to promote itself internationally. The following is the text of a report by Iranian daily newspaper Farhang-e Ashti website on 19 December; subheadings inserted editorially:

The president and head of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council has conveyed 23 strategies and solutions to the Voice and Vision Organization [state broadcasting organization] for the qualitative and quantitative improvement of its activities. According to a report by Fars News Agency, the directive has been conveyed by Mahmud Ahmadinezhad under the [reference] number "DS/3824" after being adopted by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council. [Punctuation as published here and throughout.] In the introduction to the directive reference is made to the point that the Voice and Vision Organization has a grave mission in Iran's cultural growth and social development. Among the most important of its duties training, disseminating news, giving guidance, providing recreation and publicity can be mentioned.

The directive goes on to say: According to the guidelines of His Holiness Imam Khomeyni (may God be satisfied with him) as well as the Supreme Leader, the Voice and Vision Organization is a public university that carries out its role as the most important mass medium.

Research and assessment

The head of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council stresses the point that the legislation on the Third [Five Year Economic] Development Plan also has charged the Voice and Vision Organization in its Articles 159 and 167 with carrying out studies and research, sustained assessment of the effectiveness of its activities, boosting the arts, sciences and technology, completing the population [audience] coverage, reporting and critically analysing the performance of the executive establishments, promoting general, technical and professional training and so forth. He goes on to say: The implementation of the cultural policies adopted by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council is a further legal and official duty of the Voice and Vision Organization.

The president continues by citing the [results of the] study carried out by the Cultural and Academic Supervision Board into the Voice and Vision Organization and then goes on to convey the strategies and solutions adopted by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council for improving the activities of the organization. According to Section One of the directive, the planning and production of programmes by the Voice and Vision Organization must be based on the results of studies and research more than ever. Furthermore, there is a need for outside research to be encouraged for enhancing the quality of the production and broadcasting of programmes by the organization.

Moreover, taking into account the dearth of outside assessments of the Voice and Vision Organization, the need has been stressed for carrying out such assessments as well as polling the opinion of the elite and the audiences and making use of the views of critics in policy-making, planning, production and broadcast of programmes. The Voice and Vision Organization has to pay more attention in specialized domains to listening constantly to the views from outside the organization.

Effective supervision

According to Section Three of the presidential directive, the Supervisory Council that oversees the Voice and Vision Organization, as a supervisory body that is governed by the three branches of the state, must take on a more effective role in overseeing the policies, strategies, options and assessment of the content of the programmes and the effectiveness of the productions. That will be within the framework of its legal duties.

The president has considered paying attention to the academic and specialized particulars when the organization presents specialists and university academics to be another requirement for enhancing the qualitative level. He goes on to say: It is appropriate that the Voice and Vision Organization audience research is carried out in a scientific and sustained manner and programmes should be produced on the basis of the precise understanding of specific and general audiences, their tendencies and requirements within the framework of the policies and strategies of the country. The long term experience of the radio broadcasting can be considered to a greater extent by other sectors in increasing effectiveness among the audiences.

Islamic criteria

Paying attention to value indicators and the culture of justice, contentedness, charity, endeavour, promotion of virtuous conduct, encouraging the young to choose various professions, increasing skills related to ways of living, caring for the environment, avoiding the promotion of extravagance and wastefulness especially in series and advertisements, observing the criteria of Islamic culture in purchasing foreign films and series and taking notice of the middle class stratum in Iran's society are among the other points that the president has stressed in his directive to the Voice and Vision Organization.

Cultural onslaught

The Seventh Section of the directive says: It is necessary for the planners and producers of the network programmes to consider more effective and intelligent ways for countering the extensive dimensions of the cultural onslaught. Redoubled efforts must be made in developing the social and cultural awareness of the people by truly depicting the extent and positive as well as negative values of the achievements and models of Western culture and civilization and by the scientific and artistic promotion of the Iranian as well as Islamic culture and civilization.

International network

A professional consideration of the open and at the same time directed circulation of information and news and the prudent reporting of various points of view and diverse analyses with the purpose of informing public opinion and neutralizing unsavoury foreign information dissemination currents and domestic rumours; more extensive and in-depth use of the rich resources of the Farsi language and literature and the introduction of the cultural and literary luminaries in the form of attractive and varied programmes for the purpose of strengthening solidarity and national identity and honouring human and Islamic values; making use of competent experts and young artists in the arts sector and avoiding repetitious subjects; controlling the expenditure in producing plays and serials and drawing up appropriate criteria for the qualitative and quantitative assessment of programmes on Islamic lore; extending coverage and also setting up an international network on Islamic lore on a global level are among the other required tasks in the directive conveyed by the head of the administration for the activities of the Voice and Vision Organization.

From now on the organization must also include instructional and educational points in the recreational and entertainment programmes in an indirect, attractive and non-artificial way with the aim of strengthening religious identity, national solidarity, hope for life, social belief, ethical development, job creation, new thinking and scientific insight. The organization must stress the observance of religious edicts and Islamic customs.

Avoid Western music

Avoiding the promotion of banal and Western music and laying emphasis on legitimate, high quality and genuine Iranian music, promoting scientific research into music, producing and broadcasting calming music as well as music that evokes the revolution constitute the 11th Section of Ahmadinezhad's directives for the activities of the Voice and Vision Organization.

Ethical cinema

The ratified decision of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council that has been conveyed by Ahmadinezhad continues to say: The supervision of the content of feature films and series must be based on the determination of criteria and norms. In this respect, making costs realistic, supporting Iran's cinema, especially ethical cinema, extending cinematic exposition among the audiences and avoiding the promotion of violence and banality, eliminating extremism in the selection of films and carrying out appropriate dubbing are stressed.

Moreover, with respect to the sports programmes of the Voice and Vision Organization, while the beneficial effects of the positive enthusiasms of championship sports and the promotion of national sports and domestic as well as ethnic games are acknowledged, promoting the proper sports culture and paying more attention to the promotion of general sports, especially encouraging housewives and girls to physical activity and basic sports, paying attention to the scientific aspects of sport and the assessment of the relevant establishments seem to be more necessary than ever.

Children's programmes

Ahmadinezhad stresses that in children's and teenagers programmes, the Voice and Vision Organization should benefit from an ethical and educational model that is based on religious traditions and should create scientific support in those programmes based on the results of the research carried out by scientific centres and make use of experts in education. He goes on to say: Furthermore, focusing on the process of socializing children and youngsters, teaching them the acceptance of responsibility and observance of citizen's rights, assisting the children and youngsters with their intellectual growth and development of creativity must be strengthened.

Redoubled efforts aimed at improving the spirit of friendship and devotion, tranquillity, security and health of Iranian families for the purpose of reducing socio-psychological damage and domestic violence; creating the needed measures for making programme production competitive through creating equal opportunities for other public and private sectors in the country; providing reports; accountability; transparency of the organization and creating the necessary courses of action for training committed and religious artists and presenters through drawing up special standards are among the duties that from now on the organization must carry.

International audiences

Meanwhile, the Voice and Vision Organization, as the vanguard in the free-thinking movement that is based on the teachings of the Supreme Leader, must, by observing ethics, rationality and freedom, pursue the policy in the political domain in other intellectual, scientific and cultural contexts by holding debate sessions and promote the movement by inviting prominent thinkers. Moreover, through a process of re-engineering the organization networks with the aim of creating competition at international level and attracting audiences with diverse creeds, it must try new ways provided that it observes minimum criteria and standards and carries out quality development of the model and official networks of the country.

Within six months

In the concluding part of the presidential directive it is said: The Voice and Vision Organization is duty bound to adopt the necessary measures for the proper and complete implementation of the decisions of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, especially the cultural policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the proposals in the present assessment and must report the outcome to the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council within six months.

Summary of board's findings

The following is a summary of study carried out by the Board of Supervision and Cultural and Scientific Assessment of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council on which the president has based his directive of strategies and solutions for the enhancement of the activities of the Voice and Vision Organization:

1 - The activities of the Voice and Vision Organization, despite the existing shortcomings, generally follow the course of realizing the guidelines of His Holiness, the Imam [Khomeyni], (may God be satisfied with him), and the Supreme Leader as well as the cultural policies and have a fitting impact in Iran's cultural and social development.

2 - The developments in the Voice and Vision Organization in the past 10 years and the significant expansion of national, provincial and international networks in various languages indicate the undeniable progress and success of the organization in quantitative development.

3 - The volume and variety of productions in various networks for the purpose of attracting audiences in all walks of life speak of efforts made by those in charge of this crucial mass medium. The increasing quality of the programmes and the variety of their subject matter, especially the attention paid to the young and to women are praiseworthy.

4 - The Voice and Vision Organization has had significant successes in improving the quality of the features and series produced as historical-religious series.

5 - During the Third [Five Year Economic] Development Plan, the Voice and Vision Organization has been relatively successful in the production sector and audience coverage. However, audience coverage in the border areas of the country continues to face challenges. The organization has not made adequate efforts towards implementing other contents of Articles 159 and 167 of the legislation on the Third Development Plan.

6 - Studies and research within the organization have enjoyed satisfactory growth. However, research work carried out outside the organization on the programmes of the Voice and Vision Organization have been few and enjoyed little impact.

7 - A policy of tendency towards opulence and promoting consumerism in the successful serials and advertisements can be seen. These are in contradiction with a suitable model of Iranian family life and Islamic culture. Moreover, in the programmes of the organization adequate attention is not paid to the middle class that constitutes the majority of the community.

8 - The manifestation of religious values in the religious programmes and the honouring of occasions depict a praiseworthy policy by the Voice and Vision Organization. The quality and extent of the introduction of religious symbols, values and conduct as well as the educational and culture-building aspects of such programmes are worth deliberating upon, given the masses of young and teenage audiences.

Source: Farhang-e Ashti website, Tehran in Persian 19 Dec 05

SAUID ARABIA

23/12/2005 Saudi Arabia: Radio Jedda launches Hajj channel

Text of report in English by Saudi newspaper Arab News website on 23 December

Jedda, 23 December: Radio Jedda has launched the seasonal Pilgrimage Enlightenment Radio (PER) to serve Hajj pilgrims and observers.

The PER will be transmitting religious programs in 14 languages during the Hajj season.

Besides Arabic, the programmess will be in English, French, Persian, Turkish, Hausa, Indonesian, Urdu, Bengali, Pashto, Turkistani, Somali, Swahili and Bambara. The last four languages have recently been added to the list by the Ministry of Culture and Information as part of its efforts to ensure a wider audience for this seasonal radio service.

The PER programmes are tailored to ensure the pilgrims' proper orientation and enlightenment in topics related to the performance of pilgrimage.

PER will broadcast live comprehensive coverage of Hajj, including traffic reports, movement of pilgrims, weather conditions, safety precautions, and interviews with experts, scholars and pilgrims. The programme "With You On the Air" will be presented again this year.

Besides religious programmes, the PER will broadcast live coverage of the days of Tarwiyah [first day of Hajj], the stay at Arafat, the Arafat Day sermon, the noon and late-afternoon prayers performed at Nimrah Mosque, the pilgrims' movement from Arafat to Muzdalifah, the Id prayer from the Holy Mosque, and the three days of Tashriq.

Abdullah al-Shaya, director of the second programme and PER supervisor, said that several ministries, such as the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, the Ministry of Hajj and the Ministry of Interior would present special programmes through the PER.

Source: Arab News website, Jedda, in English 23 Dec 05

EGYPT

24/12/2005 Egyptian TV stations carry brief reports on Nur's prison sentence

Egyptian state-owned Channel I TV and Nile News TV reported the news of Ayman Nur, leader of the opposition Al-Ghad Party, being sentenced to five years in prison for forging proxies that allowed him to establish his party, in their news bars.

In the 1000 gmt news bulletin of the locally broadcast Egyptian Channel 1 TV, the news of Nur's imprisonment came briefly just before the end of the bulletin. The TV showed a video of the trial, as Nur stood behind bars, while a police officer and a policeman were standing in front of the bars in what seemed to be a deliberate act to prevent Nur's face from appearing on national TV.

The news about Nur came at the end of a news brief on Nile News TV as well, with an additional phrase referring to a statement by Nur's lawyer saying that they would appeal the ruling. The footage broadcast on Nile News TV showed a clearer picture of Nur wearing white prison clothes.

Source: Channel 1 TV, Cairo, in Arabic 1006 gmt 24 Dec 05

BOSNIA

22/12/2005 State TV says Bosnian media under political, financial pressure

Excerpt from Public Secret current affairs programme broadcast by Bosnian public broadcaster BHTV1 on 22 December

[Presenter Amir Zukic] As it usually happens in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the Latinica affair [Croatian TV programme which criticized the legacy of the first Croatian president Tudjman] was understood literally here. Despite the law that forbids politicians to interfere in public broadcasting, the authority's pressure against media has become increasingly obvious. Although journalist freedoms in Bosnia-Hercegovina sometimes resemble anarchy, political, and even more dominant financial pressure, has contributed to the polarization of media on national [ethnic] and political basis.

[Reporter] The pressure on Bosnia-Hercegovina's media is not coming from the parliaments, but it does exist. These are not physical attacks any longer or assassination attempts. Less publicly, but equally forcefully, the centres of political power or those enjoying their support now tend to choose tools of financial blackmail for accomplishment of their goals.

[Dragan Jerinic, editor-in-chief of Banja Luka's Nezavisne novine daily] What is worrying is the fact that there is a sort of economic pressure on certain media, with some companies, through governments and political parties, exerting influence over the media.

[Reporter] In order for a newspaper to survive, at least 30 per cent of it needs to be reserved for advertisements, while the advertisers are usually profitable companies frequently influenced by ruling parties. The logic is very clear: your economic situation will depend on what you write.

[Senad Pecanin, director of Dani weekly] We had a case several years ago when we tried for years to get one paid advertisement of one or two thousand marks from the Tobacco Factory, but we did not succeed. However, when we published a series of documents and stories about criminal activities of the Tobacco Factory management, in several days' time we received an offer to sign a contract for advertisements worth 300,000 marks. [Passage omitted]

[Reporter] A direct threat to the survival of Dani followed after an invitation of Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa effendi Ceric [head of Bosnian Islamic Community] for advertisers not to advertise in this and similarly oriented media due to their alleged anti-Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] character. Indirect financial influence was exerted by invitations of the Islamic Community over the public broadcasting service too, which resulted in November of last year in a sudden drop in TV subscription fees for ten per cent. [Passage omitted]

Frequent attempts to influence the public word have continued to be manifested through direct threats, which are demonstrated by 50 complaints registered on the journalists' help-line. The latest recorded threat was made by a Sokolac judge against a journalist of one daily. [Passage omitted]

Despite such cases, it has not happened yet that colleagues from the total of four divided associations jointly protected their own interests and their profession. Though unusual for other countries, 50 lawsuits were initiated by journalists against other journalists or media houses, frequently opposed according to their support for certain political groups.

Radenko Udovicic, Media Plan Institute] Concerning the press, I claim that one can judge immediately upon taking the newspapers into their hands which national groups the newspapers favour and which political party they support.

[Reporter] In the past two years, after the Slander Law came into force, the cantonal and district courts received around 300 lawsuits brought by politicians and other persons against journalists, which is three times more than in the past period. The biggest number of lawsuits was launched against Dnevni avaz, Slobodna Bosna [weekly] and the Federation TV.

[Bakir Hadziomerovic, editor-in-chief of the Bosnian Federation TV 60 Minutes current affairs programme] In this moment, concerning the court proceedings, which are around ten, I think, we have a positive balance. We had a couple of lawsuits where the people were too ambitious and requested one million or 500,000, etc. We won these cases.

[Reporter] Lawsuits against journalists can be a limiting factor for the freedom of media. On the other hand, the ombudsmen warn that piling up of lawsuits points out frequent violations of human rights and the ethics code.

[Mehmed Halilovic, Media ombudsmen] Even the very popular media have demonstrated examples of lack of professionalism. Too many adjectives are being used, heavy arms and heavy accusations, without strong arguments. [Passage omitted]

[Reporter] Unlike courts, the Press Council receives on average 30 citizens' complaints per year. Neither the citizens nor the media employees trust the system of printed media self-regulation. The most read newspaper Dnevni avaz has even disputed legitimacy of the Press Council, after the daily had been criticized for violation of the code and publishing of a photo of a kidnapped son of a Sarajevo sportsman when the boy's life was still in danger. [Passage omitted]

Source: BHTV1, Sarajevo, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 1900 gmt 22 Dec 05

LEBONAN

26/12/2005 Hezbollah-e Iran to hold nationwide congress; satellite TV being mooted

Text of report by Iranian newspaper E'temad website on 26 December

The nationwide congress of Hezbollah-e Iran [Iran's Hezbollah] is to be held at the end of the current year [current Iranian year ends in March 2006] with the participation of this organization's provincial forces and invited political and religious figures.

Speaking to ILNA [Iranian Labour News Agency], Mojtaba Bigdeli, spokesman of Hezbollah-e Iran, added: Parts of the Hezbollah Charter are to be approved at the congress.

He said that one of the congress's aims was to find ways to help and assist the Basiji government of Ahmadinezhad [Basij is a volunteer force affiliated to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps] and added: In view of the fact that the Basiji government of Ahmadinezhad has come under attack from foreigners recently, we are trying to find ways and to understand how we can help this government.

Mojtaba Bigdeli also said the following about the [planned] Kheybar satellite station: The station's technical work has been finalized. We have conducted talks with two satellite providers and the organization's secretary-general has a completely favourable views on this subject but the central council has not declared an explicit view in this respect yet.

Source: E'temad website, Tehran, in Persian 26 Dec 05

LONDON

02/01/2006 Leading pan-Arab TV stations reject US-based Zogby poll on viewing figures

Text of report in English from London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 2 January; ellipses as published

London, Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Leading Arab television stations have expressed their anger at the findings of a poll by Zogby International and cast doubt on its conclusion that Al-Jazeera was the most popular channel in the region, describing them as biased. For its part, Al-Jazeera celebrated the results and dedicated an entire programme to a discussion of the results, featuring Karen Hughes, the US new undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Zogby International, a prominent US polling company, in conjunction with the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland recently conducted a survey in six Arab countries to uncover the opinion of Arabs on several important issues, including the status of media in the Arab world. At the same time, a survey of viewing habits by the international market research company, Ipsos Stat, which specializes in the Middle East, revealed viewers were deserting the Qatar-based channel, especially in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Dubai Television, Saudi TV and Future Television were amongst a number of stations that criticized the Zogby poll as lacking scientific basis, since these stations were not included in the poll despite scoring high in the most regional and local polls. A media expert indicated that the Zogby poll committed a grave error when it neglected terrestrial TV stations, at a time when they are enjoying larger viewing figures than several satellite television channels, because local audiences continue to prefer local stations and the technology was beyond the reach of low-income households, who constitute the majority of Arabs.

The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya ridiculed the poll and accused it of being partial and appearing to favour particular stations and lacking in scientific methods necessary to correctly collate viewing figures. Al-Arabiya, which came first in the poll as the most watched second choice channel, said the questionnaire was full of errors, including omitting Iraq, one of the most important Arab countries for news channels.

A spokesman for the Al-Arabiya channel said: "MBC has previously cancelled a show for James Zogby [a senior analyst with the polling firm founded and managed by his brother John Zogby ] and it is currently associate with Zogby International [as published]. Therefore, we do not recognize the poll and do not accept its results. For the second year running, we believe it is partial." He indicated that Zogby International did not include Iraq in its poll, despite a large section of the population watching news programmes. When Al-Sharq al-Awsat suggested the continuing violence could impede market research, the spokesman indicated Zogby International had previously conducted polls in Iraq and added: "The situation in Iraq did not prevented Gallup International, for example, from conducting a poll of the most popular channels in Iraq. It concluded that Al-Arabiya was first with a considerable margin."

For its part, the prominent satellite channel Dubai Television indicated, "it does not recognize the Zogby International poll", describing it as "favouring certain results." It revealed that its position amongst Arab channels had greatly improved in recent months. It was in the lead, scoring higher than most channels included in the Zogby poll, as an Ipsos Stat survey showed.

A media research expert condemned Zogby International and drew attention to errors in its early preparations, such as the choice of channels, and in formulating questions, for example when Al-Jazeera was mentioned first in each question. This, he said, gave the impression the station was being singled out. He also indicated that Zogby International should not have conducted a poll in market it has certain interests, since James Zogby, who is affiliated to the company, presents a weekly show on Abu Dhabi channel and receives a salary. This contradicts the moral code and principles of market research, he added.

Describing the results as "non-scientific", the media expert indicated that "organizations which specialize in viewing figures base their conclusions on specific questions such as what programme was watched and when." Inexact questions would annul the results, he said. As a rule, market research companies should also investigate the results in order to allow the companies featured in the survey to review the feedback forms. In the case of Saudi Arabia more than 4,000 individuals should be surveyed to ensure the sample is representative, the expert said. However, in the case of the Zogby International poll, only 800 were polled.

According to the Zogby survey, Al-Jazeera was the most popular channel, followed by MBC, LBCI, Al-Arabiya, Abu Dhabi television, Al-Manar, Egypt satellite television. Al-Hurra scored the lowest, the poll found. Meanwhile, Ipsos Stat, in its last survey in Saudi Arabia, found Saudi TV to be the most popular channel, followed by MBC, the film channel MBC2, Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, Saudi sports TV and finally, Dubai TV. In its survey in Iraq, Ipsos Stat found that Al-Arabiya enjoyed the largest audience figures in the news category and was second in the general category after Iraqi TV. Al-Jazeera came in sixth place.

James Zogby strenuously defended the poll results and told Al-Sharq al-Awsat: "We did not claim that Al-Jazeera was number one." He indicated that the questions submitted to a sample of Arab viewers were mostly concerned with discovering which channels they viewed to follow international news. The determining question, Zogby said, was "Which channel do you watch to follow international news?" Most answers mentioned Al-Jazeera. This did not mean that those who answered Al-Jazeera did not view other channels or that it was the only source of world news, Zogby cautioned. "The poll took a long time to complete. It featured all days and all times," he said, in response to criticism.

Zogby said the poll should not be viewed as a measure of "respect of or lack of". Instead, the survey provides an indication of which channel viewers rely on for international news. He added that Arab viewers, like their American counterparts, used the remote control and switched channels and programmes. He stressed that the poll did not aim to judge the quality of Arab channels.

Zogby cautioned that the poll did not reveal whether certain television influenced the opinions of its viewers, adding, "Some people watch Saudi TV or LBCI but have negative attitudes towards America and the situation in Iraq. This is why the US claims that Arab viewers watch Al-Jazeera and therefore hate us or that if they watch Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya their attitude to Iraq is affected are perhaps unfounded."

Watching Al-Jazeera, Zogby revealed, would not necessarily change people's view on the war in Iraq.

Asked about the absence of certain channels from the poll, Zogby replied that Saudi TV was not incorporated in the list because the side, which commissioned the survey, did not include it. However, he said, "I believe Future TV was one of the Lebanese channels when we surveyed the opinions of Lebanese viewers... In Abu Dhabi, we asked about Dubai TV... But it was not logical to ask about Dubai TV in Morocco, for example."

Zogby revealed the institute had previously conducted a poll on Arab channels and would carry out another survey when it has the chance to do so. The disputed poll only focused on the most popular channels for world news, he said.

However, Jihad Balout, an official at Al-Arabiya, said, "With all due respect to Zogby International, the best approach to uncover viewing trends in the Arab world is to rely on the conclusions of specialist organizations working on the ground", for example Ipsos Stat which "is recognized by almost all advertising agencies and leading television channels in the Arab world."

"Al-Arabiya was the most popular channel in Iraq while Al-Jazeera was sixth. Al-Arabiya was also in fist place in Saudi Arabia. How does Zogby International explain its results which contradict the findings of market researchers who specialize in the Arab world?"

Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in English 2 Jan 06

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Copyright 2006 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
TBS is published by the
Adham Center for Electronic Journalism, the American University in Cairo and the Middle East Centre, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, UK
E-mail: TBS@aucegypt.edu