Satellite Chronicle
March 2006

PAKISTAN

06/03/2006 Pakistan blocks anti-president, "blasphemous" blogs

Text of report by Ammara Durrani headlined: "Ban on 'blasphemous' websites; PTA blocks blogs not carrying profane material" by Pakistani newspaper The News website on 6 March

Karachi: The country's telecom authorities that imposed a ban last week on websites inviting people to draw blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH [peace be upon him]) have also blocked several blogs that have no connection with the cartoon controversy.

A letter issued by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) on 28 February (a copy of which is with The News) had directed all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country to block a dozen websites inviting people to draw cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Several of these websites listed in the letter are based in Europe.

A similar directive was issued by the PTA in an earlier letter dated 16 February (whose copy is available with The News), asking all ISPs to block a site, www.thepresidentofpakistan.com, which supposedly featured abusive material against General Pervez Musharraf.

The banning of one particular website, however, has resulted in the blocking of all blogs - web journals - accessible to Pakistani Internet users, The News learnt on Friday [3 March].

On 1 March, bloggers tried logging onto the popular site, Blogspot.com, only to discover that they could no longer access the blogs hosted on it.

IT experts said the action might have been "unintentional" and a result of hastiness, rather than a deliberate attempt to block the sites.

"In their efficiency, PTA axed the host instead of the URLs that could easily have been blocked without causing this problem," said an IT professional working for a Karachi-based ISP, who requested anonymity.

The blocked blogs could still be accessed by "anonymizers", a service which allows people to surf sites without being identified, experts said, hoping that the authorities would take notice of the situation and rectify it.

"Censorship is an issue, but PTCL should be having a mechanism to block URLs and not the hosts," said the IT professional.

Meanwhile, bloggers expressed anger and disappointment at the ban that continued in its sixth day, preventing them from visiting the blocked online journals.

In messages posted on various mailing lists and websites, members of Pakistan's Internet community, and even that of India, were seen talking about the reasons behind the ban.

Chiefs among the theories under discussion were that the ban was either an attempt by the Pakistan government to quell anti-Bush sentiments doing the rounds in the blogosphere, or to test and impend "IT censorship policy".

A Pakistani group calling itself "Pakistani Bloggers & Friends" launched on Saturday an online campaign by the name "Don't Block the Blog!" to "support free speech of Pakistani bloggers and Internet free speech in general."

"Political pressure groups have protested to the government to block those websites displaying the controversial cartoon images of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that were hosted on the net," said a statement posted on the group's website.

"But instead of blocking specific sites, ISPs have simply blacklisted the entire domain, causing thousands of blogs to be inaccessible for viewing or authoring in Pakistan."

Interestingly, the 28 February directive issued by the PTA was followed by another directive issued on Thursday by the Supreme Court to the government to adopt measures for blocking websites showing "blasphemous" material, and summoning the authorities concerned on 13 March to explain why such sites were not blocked earlier, keeping in view the sensitivity of the issue.

"We will not accept any excuse or technical objection on this issue because it relates to the sentiments of the entire Muslim world," Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was reported to have said while hearing two constitutional petitions seeking the blocking of websites showing "blasphemous" material on the Internet.

The two petitions were reportedly filed last month by Dr Imran Uppal through his counsel Qamar Afzal under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, and by Moulvi Iqbal Haider regarding the registration of cases under the blasphemy law.

The Federation of Pakistan, the Ministry of Telecommunications, Pemra, the PTA, Yahoo Incorporation USA and 1&1 Co, the web host of a "blasphemous" site, through the chairman of Andreas Ganger were made respondents to the petitions.

No figures are available on the number of bloggers in Pakistan. The PTA, however, estimates that out of the country's 151 million population, over two million people in more than 1,900 cities and towns have access to the Internet.

Currently, two operators, PTCL and FLAG, are providing for Pakistan's Internet backbone with international bandwidths of 45 mbps and 155 mbps, respectively.

Source: The News website, Islamabad, in English 6 Mar 06

SAUDI ARABIA

04/03/2006 Saudi Arabia: Fifth TV channel to transmit council meetings

Excerpt from report in English by Omer Yousif Ibrahim by Saudi newspaper Saudi Gazette website on 4 March

Ministry of Information and Culture is planning to overhaul literary clubs and is in the process of starting a fifth TV channel to exclusively transmit Shura Council and municipal council deliberations.

Iyad Amin Madani, minister of culture and information, said that literary clubs will be reorganized with the establishment of councils in preparation for elections. At present presidents of literary clubs are appointed.

He made these remarks during a meeting with intellectuals and men of letters in Jizan.

He also announced that his ministry is in the process of launching a fifth satellite channel to be fully devoted to the transmission of the deliberations in the Shura Council and municipal councils.

We virtually intend by launching this channel to acquaint the public with the performance of these legislative institutions, he informed.

He indicated that the ministry would completely change the current method and pattern of Channel 2 in order to mirror the real picture of the kingdom, pointing that this channel will be exclusively for the foreign media.

The ministry is offering free hand to all the cultural institutions in the country to work and function without intervention in order to secure a wider space for creativity. Thus the ministry serves as a referral authority, he said. [Passage omitted]

Source: Saudi Gazette website, Jedda, in English 4 Mar 06

05/03/2006 Afghan daily sees clash of generations in media controversy

Text of editorial in English by Afghan state-run newspaper The Kabul Times on 5 March entitled "The mass media law guarantees freedom of press"

Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Dr Sayed Makhdum Rahin distributed the other day letters of thanks among experts reviewing the draft Mass Media Law.

This liberal law enables every adult national of this country to set up a radio or TV station or run a newspaper or magazine providing that he gets registered with the Ministry of Justice and shows the source of his working capital.

The ministry is actually under heavy pressure by the people whose majority comprises orthodox Muslims who greatly oppose the appearance of naked or half-naked female bodies on TV screens while the sex-starved youth wish to see enough of such images.

And the proprietors of these stations are young or at least youthful and they know better than anybody else what sort of films increase the number of their audience and earn them more commercials.

The controversy between the proprietors of the Afghan TV Station and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism revolved around what the youth want most and what the elders resent most.

In other words, this is the war between two generations, each wielding power on its own accord.

Now what to do in this tug of war?

In permissive countries like the UK and US, any TV station can screen any film with the proviso that it is not libellous or slanderous, otherwise the station would be in deep trouble. Therefore, they exercise self-censorship.

In a country that has earned its liberation since 2002 while the fanatical elements have not abandoned the seats of power and the mullahs gain more prestige, the young men operating the mass media should be extra careful.

The publication in a Danish magazine of Prophet Muhammad cartoons recently led to numerous demonstrations in many parts of the world which ended in riots and mayhem, resulting in a few deaths in certain countries.

Though all media are free to use materials of their own choosing, they have to consider their audience.

Fathers object to screening half-naked films thinking that these corrupt their children's morals and they cannot send them elsewhere to watch something educational.

Again, even in advanced societies, films not fit for youngsters are X-rated which means only adults can watch them. That is why these films are screened at 2300 or thereafter when the children are supposed to be asleep.

But our children don't sleep before sending us adults to bed and they openly or secretly watch the TV, a most attractive means of entertainment in the lack of all healthy recreations available in other countries.

It is an extremely tough job to operate a TV station considering the delicate balance between the conservatives and the liberals.

Each medium has to perform three functions, namely, education, entertainment and enlightenment. In the US, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] takes care of all media and rates them accordingly.

Source: The Kabul Times, Kabul, in English 5 Mar 06

KUWAIT

07/03/2006 Kuwait: New satellite channel Al-Risalah to counter "misconceptions" of Islam

Text of report in English by Saudi newspaper Arab News website on 7 March

Prince Al-Walid Bin-Talal, CEO of Kingdom Holding Company, officially launched yesterday an Islamic satellite channel to project Islam as a religion of moderation and tolerance. Al-Risalah (The Message) channel had made its debut informally on Wednesday [1 March].

Addressing a press conference at the headquarters of Kingdom Holding Company, Prince Al-Walid said the 24-hour channel would target the Arab audience, especially the youth, by projecting "our Arab heritage through a modern medium". It will be the forerunner of an English-language Islamic channel for the Western audience at a later stage.

Pointing out that the channel would seek to project the true message of Islam and its teachings, the prince said it would provide a platform for a dialogue on a range of religious, social and economic issues that affect everyday life. But more important, its priority would be to counteract the misconceptions of Islam in other societies.

Elaborating on Prince Al-Walid's comments, Shura Council member Walid Hashim told Arab News that the channel would feature cartoons and animated films with a moral content. These programmes would be procured from TV companies operating in Turkey and unspecified Arab countries.

Asked if the channel would provide a platform for different schools of thought, he said that the main objective was to unify the ranks of the Islamic community, counter the negative perceptions of Islam and wean the youth away from the path of extremism. To this end, there would be an assortment of programmes from prominent scholars.

Tariq Al-Suwaydan, the channel's general manager, said that 40 per cent of the programmes would be youth oriented, 30 per cent would target women and families, and 10 per cent would focus on children.

Noting that the channel was the brainchild of Prince Al-Walid, Al-Suwaydan, who designed the contents of the programme, said: "I was delighted with Prince Al-Walid's idea to plan and launch such a unique channel. This channel represents pure and moderate Islam and our Arab heritage through a modern medium."

The press conference was attended by members of the Supreme Advisory Committee of the new channel, including Abdullah Bin-Sulayman al-Mana'i, Abdullah Umar Nasif and Hamid al-Rifa'i, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue.

Source: Arab News website, Jedda, in English 7 Mar 06

LIBERIA

07/03/2006 Liberian pressmen call for setting up of media network on small arms

Text of report by independent Liberian Star Radio on 7 March

Senior media editors and practitioners have made several recommendations to the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] in the fight against small arms in the country. The journalists called for the setting up of a media network on small arms.

The media editors also want the UNDP to sponsor an annual award programme for the best investigative story on small arms. They made the recommendations at a one-day workshop held as part of the Arms for Development Programme.

Source: Star Radio, Monrovia, in English 0700 gmt 7 Mar 06

IRAQ

11/03/2006 Al-Iraqiyah TV director reportedly shot dead in Baghdad

Text of report by Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya TV on 11 March

Al-Arabiya Television correspondent in Baghdad has reported that Amjad Hamid Hasan, director of Al-Iraqiyah Television Channel, was killed as he was leaving his house this morning in Al-Khadra district in western Baghdad, at the hands of gunmen who fired at his car.

The correspondent said that his driver was seriously wounded.

Source: Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic 1907 gmt 11 Mar 06

IRAQ

14/03/2006 Iraqi weekly's chief editor killed in Baghdad

Text of report by Iraqi Al-Sharqiyah TV on 14 March

A source at the Iraqi Journalists' Association announced early this morning the martyrdom of the Iraqi journalist Muhsin Khudayyir, also known as Abu Risalah, chief editor of the weekly magazine Alif Ba. The same source said the martyr was assassinated by unidentified persons who attacked him late last night in his place of residence in Al-Ilam district in Baghdad.

This is the third incident of its kind against Iraqi journalists within one week, after the assassination of Munsif al-Khalidi, Baghdad TV channel news manager, and Amjad Hamid, Al-Iraqiyah channel programming manager.

Source: Al-Sharqiyah, Baghdad, in Arabic 0700 gmt 14 Mar 06

IRAQ

11/03/2006 Iraq: Watchdog condemns killing of Al-Iraqiyah director

Text of press release by Paris-based organization Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) on 11 March

Reporters Without Borders deplored the murder in Baghdad today of Amjad Hamid, of the local TV station Al-Iraqiyah, its 11th journalist to die since fighting began three years ago and the second TV reporter to be killed in Iraq in the past week.

He had just left his home in central Baghdad on his way to work when he was shot dead by armed men who blocked his car. His driver, Anwar Turky, was seriously wounded.

Reporters Without Borders expressed condolences to his family (he was married with three children). It expressed concern at the recent wave of violence against journalists and called on the Iraqi authorities to make every effort to guarantee their security.

Another reporter, Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi, of Baghdad TV, was murdered on 7 March on the road between Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul.

Al-Iraqiyah is part of the Iraqi Media Network group, which is close to the ruling Shiite parties, and has been the media outlet hardest-hit in the Iraq fighting.

84 journalists have been killed in the three years since the war began. Only 63 were killed during the entire 20 years (1955-75) of the Vietnam War.

[The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV reported that Hamid, a director of Al-Iraqiyah television, was killed by gunmen in the Al-Khdra district of Baghdad as he left his home.]

Source: Reporters Sans Frontieres press release, Paris, in English 11 Mar 06

ISRAEL

10/03/2006 Israel: Al-Jazeerah TV may stop Israeli Arab coverage after Nazareth attack

Text of report by Israeli Arab newspaper Al-Sinnarah on 10 March

Al-Sinnarah has learned that Al-Jazeera satellite channel television is exploring the possibility of refraining from sending crews and broadcast vehicles to cover news in the Israeli Arab sector following the attack on Al-Jazeera crew during the Church of Annunciation events. A group of Nazarene citizens assaulted the Al-Jazeera team, punctured the wheels of its 700,000-dollar broadcast car, cut its cables, and caused massive damage to it. Al-Jazeera source said: "Al-Jazeera crews have not experienced such attacks even when they were covering news on extreme right-wing settlers."

Source: Al-Sinnarah, Nazareth, in Arabic 10 Mar 06

AFGHANISTAN

15/03/2006 Pakistan "bans" private Afghan TV's broadcasts in Baluchistan

Text of report by Afghan independent Tolo TV on 15 March

[Presenter] The Pakistani authorities have banned Tolo TV programmes in that country.

The director of Information and Publication Department of the Pakistani Baluchistan Province has told a news agency that they have banned Tolo TV programmes for airing anti-Pakistani propaganda.

However, Afghan officials say the measure shows the strength of the media and the fear of the Pakistani authorities from the spread of reports.

[Correspondent] Pajhwok News Agency has reported that the Pakistani authorities in Quetta have banned an Afghan TV channel programmes. The director of Information and Publication Department in Baluchistan says they respect the freedom of media, but cannot tolerate propaganda against their country.

The Afghan deputy information and culture minister says the measure by the Pakistani authorities shows media's strength in reporting and the fear of the Pakistani authorities from the facts.

[Sayed Aqa Fazel Sancharaki, deputy information minister] This shows the strength of the Afghan media in reflecting facts about relations between the countries of the region and Afghanistan's relations with its neighbours. It also shows that the Pakistani authorities are afraid of truth and do not want their people to know about the reality of Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan.

[Correspondent] An Afghan writer says the decision by the government of Pakistan highlights the fact that the Pakistani authorities might have devised a secret plan.

[Rahnaward Zariab, writer] The report does not clarify what Tolo programmes were against Pakistan. When authorities in a country make a decision, there is usually a hidden objective behind the decision. I believe this hidden objective is aimed at preventing precise reports from reaching the people of Baluchistan, and in general, the people of Pakistan. This, in fact, shows the weakness of the local government in Baluchistan and the government of Pakistan in general.

[Danesh Karokhel, director, Pajhwok News Agency] They have been airing programmes of their choice [to Afghanistan] over the last thirty years. The ban on Tolo TV programmes in Quetta means that the Pakistani authorities want to prevent the Afghan media from developing. Now the Afghan media has improved and will inform the people about the truth. The Pakistani authorities do not want thousands of Afghan refugees living in that country to know what Pakistani circles do in Afghanistan and what is actually going on in the country.

Source: Tolo TV, Kabul, in Dari 1330 gmt 15 Mar 06

IRAN

16/03/2006 Iranian TV news foils US media "plots" - Esfahan Provincial TV

Text of report by Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Esfahan Provincial TV on 16 March

During a ceremony today, journalists working for the Esfahan Centre of the Voice and Vision [Iranian radio and TV organization] were praised for creating the year's best news department.

In the ceremony, Mr Amu'i, the managing director of the Provincial News and Information Departments of the Voice and Vision, said the enemies of Islamic Iran were waging a media war which aimed to influence public opinion both inside and outside the country. He said: Using the media as a tool, the enemies intend to adversely reflect the people of Iran's supreme ideas and thoughts and display them as though they were quarrelsome and war-mongering.

The managing director of the Provincial News and Information Departments of the Voice and Vision said the national media played an important role in confronting the plots hatched by America and its allies to deprive the people of Iran of civilian nuclear technology. He said, thanks to its capabilities and an imaginative workforce, the news departments of the Voice and Vision reflected the will of the nation to the world and revealed the deceitful acts of the spiteful media.

Mr Amu'i said preparations were made for the setting up of some 25 news bureaus throughout the country, and expressed the hope that the offices would begin working in the coming [Iranian] year [which begins 20 March].

Mr Kalbasi, the managing director of the Esfahan Centre of the Voice and Vision, said the year 1384 [20 March 2005-20 March 2006] was a very active and successful year.

The managing director of the Esfahan Centre of the Voice and Vision said the result of Esfahan TV producers' work in the current year included five TV serials and three documentaries. He said: With the allocation of the necessary funds for the Esfahan Centre and by relying on its active and capable workforce, the centre would continue the production of documentary films and TV serials in 1385.

During the ceremony, the chief editors, editors, reporters and journalists of the News and Information Department of the Esfahan Centre of the Voice and Vision were praised for their work.

[Video shows: Editors and journalists being awarded]

Source: Esfahan Provincial TV, Esfahan, in Persian 1300 gmt 16 Mar 06

IRAQ

16/03/2006 Iraq: Al-Baghdadiyah satellite TV channel profiled

Al-Baghdadiyah is an Iraqi satellite channel that began official transmission on 12 September 2005. Since October 2005, the channel has been observed to change some of its programming in addition to its website, www.albaghdadia.com, recently becoming operational.

This survey was conducted between 1 and 18 March 2006.

The website identifies the channel as saying: "In the overcrowded landscape of transnational broadcasting satellites, we are not trying to be just another channel to appear, though at the same time we do not claim to be distinguished as much as we aim for clarity. Though media today is supposed to play among others an educational role, a rather negative influence on the opinion and aesthetical taste of the viewers can be found. Iraq today is suffering from destruction, environmental pollution and a serious dilemma at the cultural, political and economic levels. We, Al-Baghdadiyah Channel will do all we can to contribute to the improvement of our reality as Iraqis and to do our utmost to turn the people's sorrow into confidence that the future will be theirs. In this sense Al-Baghdadiyah will build up its course in broadcasting. Our belief in the Iraqis' ability to recover from their suffering is the motivation behind the establishment of this TV channel. We want Al-Baghdadiyah to act as an access for Iraqis to the world and vice versa."

In addition the aims of the channel are listed as:

Educating tolerance

Helping to re-establish a healthy Iraqi society and environment

Emphasizing the Iraqi identity through the cultural and social heritage

Helping to improve and modernize Iraqi society besides respecting spiritual and social values

Staying up to date with scientific developments worldwide

Improving the aesthetical values of broadcasting

Since the previous survey, it has been observed that the channel has added a number of new presenters and correspondents, and has changed the look of the news studio.

Like in the previous survey, the funding of the channel remains unclear but the indications observed previously of the connection between Al-Baghdadiyah and Al-Furat newspaper remain strong. In fact, the channel has been observed to air regularly advertisements for Al-Furat newspaper.

Arshad Tawfiq is the director-general of the channel. Al-Baghdadiyah's website includes a statement from Mr Tawfiq.

"In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

"It is my honour to introduce you to a pure Iraqi effort and a national project which aims to address all Iraqis in a unified country as they have always been and as they should be.

"It also honours me that this effort be of free will in its voice, funding, and its media dialogue. The Iraqis have fought long for dignity and fought the ugliest forms of tyranny and oppression and paid a great price for the liberation of their country and rebuild it as they have dreamed. That is why no one can confiscate this freedom and that is also why, we at Al-Baghdadiyah can only be the voice expressing this freedom.

"Al-Baghdadiyah has been distinguished since the day it was launched, is not dependent on anyone, and is not for sale. It is for all Iraqis and it is the word of Iraq.

"It is not merely an extra number among other channels; rather it is in response to a national need, and it knows full well the clear difference between men of the media and the mercenaries of the media."

Tone

Al-Baghdadiyah TV identifies itself as "an Iraqi effort for all Iraqis with pure Iraqi funding and great aspiration to raise the voice of the citizen, his questions and concerns. We are with Iraqis in their refusal of past dictatorship and the occupation because we are their true voice."

The channel seems to put an emphasis on keeping people informed as its newscasts, specifically the 1900 gmt "Today in an Hour", are very detailed and cover all aspects of Iraqi and international news, specifically the security developments.

In addition the channel has been observed to conduct its own polls with the "man on the street" on different issues arising in Iraq and has even conducted polls as to the people's opinions in the channel's performance concerning certain incidents.

The channel, within its newscasts has been observed to include reports, which it calls "Al-Baghdadiyah's Opinion" on several issues and incidents in Iraq. Most, if not all, of the reports lay the blame for whatever incident is being discussed on the US "occupation."

The channel's stance against "the occupation" has become more evident as, in addition to its negative reporting in its newscasts, the channel's talk shows often deal with the negative effect of the "occupation" on Iraq.

The channel has recently been observed to carry live a number of events such as the trial of former Iraqi President Saddam Husayn and his co-defendants, the Samarra bombing aftermath, and numerous news conferences. In addition the channel was observed to show "exclusive" footage and images relating to several stories including the Samarra bombings.

Since it was last surveyed in October 2005, the news on Al-Baghdadiyah has also changed in that the channel now conducts phone interviews with officials and analysts. The channel has also been observed to include phone-ins that allow viewers to participate in programmes.

Al-Baghdadiyah was observed to continue along its path of promoting national unity, especially during and following the Samarra bombings. During this period the channel was observed to call on all Iraqis to unite and not allow "the occupier" to succeed in dividing the Iraqi people. The channel also interviewed officials of all sects during this period.

The channel was also observed to interrupt its regular programming to cover issues of importance such as the day of the Samarra bombing and the official three days of mourning in which the channel dealt solely with this story. The channel was also observed to place a black mourning ribbon across the screen throughout the mourning period following the bombing.

Main programmes

Political:

Al-Sahafa [The Press]: A daily programme carried at 1545 gmt. It presents the main issues in the local, Arabic and, international papers and deals with political, economic, cultural, and sport related articles. The addition to this programme was the Arabic and international press as at the time of the first survey, the programme only dealt with Iraqi press. The Iraqi press is read from the studios in Iraq by the two former presenters, Jumana Zuhair and Su'd al-Shammari, while the Arabic and international press is read from the Cairo studios by Mahdi Jasim

Al-Mukhtasar [The Gist]: "Opinions, questions, and confrontations in the issues of politics and life. A programme that sheds light on the backgrounds of situations and events with the political, cultural, and social elite. An attempt, through honest dialogue and free discloser, to get closer to the truth about what is happening and the soundness of what is being said." The programme is broadcast on Thursdays at 1700 gmt and repeated at 1000 gmt on Fridays and at 2200 gmt on Sundays.

Ma Lam Yuktab [What has Not Been Written]: "A programme that hosts an important political figure, ex-ministers or official in Iraq. The host asks questions that clarify what the viewers never knew and was not written down in history when he was in office. He discusses his relationship with rulers or the president who reigned at the time." The programme is aired at 1700 gmt on Wednesdays and repeated at 1000 gmt on Thursdays and at 2200 gmt on Saturdays.

Hiwar Al-Turshan [The Talk of the Deaf]: A sarcastic criticism of many issues, including the opening which speaks of the suffering of the Iraqi people, in addition to a caricature portion that deals with what the newspapers publish. The programme also includes a comedy segment called "Advertisement" that deals with an issue in a comic way. The programme is aired at 1700 gmt on Mondays and repeated at 1000 gmt on Tuesdays.

Ard al-Sawad [The Dark Land ]: A programme presented by Baqir Yasin, a leading advocate of the "Region of the South", who tells of political stories from the Umayyad era until the fall of the former regime. The programme is aired at 1700 gmt on Sundays and repeated at 1000 gmt on Mondays.

Sijal [Debate]: A weekly programme that discusses the latest issues concerning Iraqis politically. It hosts two guests usually of opposing views so the viewer may see both sides of the coin. The programme is aired at 1700 gmt on Tuesdays and repeated at 1000 gmt on Wednesdays and at 2200 gmt on Thursdays.

Akhir al-Usbu [The End of the Week]: A weekly programme aired at 1550 on Fridays that recaps the most important stories of the week analysing them and elaborating on other aspects of the stories.

Nus Akmas [Camera Shoots]: A daily black comedy programme that deals with the sad situation of Iraqis under the occupation and interim government, such as shortage of fuel and water, lack of services, corruption, and much more. The programme is a series of clips dealing with one of the issues in a comedic manner. The programme airs at 1515 gmt and is repeated at 2430 gmt.

Social and domestic:

Al-Minassah [The Platform]: A programme that hosts officials of different fields and those responsible for the service sectors to discuss the poor conditions of services from which the citizens live under, by asking straightforward questions, be they from the host or the participants in the show, journalists and citizens. The programme is aired at 1700 gmt on Saturdays and repeated at 1000 gmt on Sundays.

Dunya Shahrazad [Shahrazad's World]: A TV magazine dealing with a number of issues such as health, fashion, cooking, beauty tips and much more. The programme is broadcast on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 1315 gmt. Each episode is repeated at 0715 gmt on Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays.

Al-In al-Ukhra [The Other Eye]: A programme carried at 1415 gmt on Sundays, presented by Ru'a al-Bazirkan. It hosts various guests to discuss controversial social issues such as magic, superstitions, hypnosis, and exorcisms. The programme is repeated at 0715 on Mondays and at 2400 gmt on Tuesdays.

Al-Mansiyun [The Forgotten]: A programme carried at 2000 gmt on Sundays, interviews figures who were once well known but have now been forgotten as they have grown older and people have become oblivious to them.

Salun al-Baghdadiyah [Al-Baghdadiyah's Salon]: A programme carried on Tuesdays at 2000 gmt and repeated on Saturdays at 1000 gmt, hosts figures from various fields of Iraqi society.

Maraya [Mirrors]: A programme dealing with artists of different fields in Iraq and their latest achievements. The programme is aired on Sundays at 1210 gmt. It is repeated at 0815 gmt on Mondays and 2030 on Wednesdays.

Shabab Chat [The Youth Chat]: This is a programme that provides a platform for the youth to speak. It deals with a number of issues that the youth are interested in such as movies and television. It also deals with concerns providing a place for them to speak out. The programme is aired at 1700 gmt on Fridays and repeated on Mondays at 1315 gmt and 0715 gmt on Tuesdays.

Religious:

Shifa Lima Fe al-Sudur [Healing the Diseases in Your Hearts]: A religious call in programme through which viewers call and inquire on how to deal with certain problems from an Islamic point of view, what the Koran says must be done to cure "ailments of the heart." The programme is aired at 1415 on Fridays and repeated 0500 gmt on Saturdays.

Economic:

There are no economic programmes on Al-Baghdadiyah.

The channel carries a number of Iraqi and Egyptian series, plays, children's programmes, documentaries and songs.

The channel was observed to continuously carry "Breaking News" captions as stories develop.

News

Main Newscasts:

1100 -1115 gmt

1500 -1515 gmt

1900 -2000 gmt

2300 -2315 gmt

0100 -0115 gmt

0700 -0715 gmt

News Summaries:

1300 -1310 gmt

2100 -2110 gmt

0900 -0915 gmt

Al-Baghdadiyah was observed to carry an English newscast as from 29 January 2006 but has since stopped this, without explanation. The last English language cast was aired on 1 March at 0100 gmt. The English newscast, during the period it was aired, was observed to be a translation of the Arabic cast to the point where the video reports were aired in Arabic with subtitles, although towards the last few days the subtitles were exchanged for a voiceover.

The channel has been observed to show a trailer for a new programme "The Occupation of Iraq." According to the trailer, the programme will deal with issues and secrets that have not been dealt with before concerning the "occupation." The trailer says: "The occupation of Iraq. Two words that do history justice. On the Iraqi borders, the world struck the deal for war. Over Baghdad destruction shook the cloak of the black night. The Airport Battle was one of the most important definitive battles. Facts that have not yet been exposed and secrets that were meant to remain secrets." On screen: "The Occupation of Iraq... Soon on Al-Baghdadiyah."

The channel's website also lists a number of coming shows on Al-Baghdadiyah including:

"In Addition"

"Iraq...Where to?"

"Amazing Scientific Pictures"

"The Mysteries of the Universe"

"Real Events and Facts"

"Stranger Than the Imagination"

"Creatures under Water"

"Make Us Laugh"

Conclusion

Al-Baghdadiyah remains primarily an entertainment and news channel, but the change in programming and the look of the channel show that the channel is evolving and working to achieve a more professional look perhaps to appeal to a wider viewer base.

A search of the internet uncovered that http://www.jumptv.com/ provides live streaming of Al-Baghdadiyah TV to subscribers. The website has a footnote on Al-Baghdadiyah: "We do our utmost to bring down tragedy to sadness and then we bring down sadness to joy so that the Iraqi nation, our nation can return to us in one piece and so that our people will return to it with compassion. That is the mark of Al-Baghdadiyah in its programming and its goal in the satellite world and in reality. Al-Baghdadiyah is Iraq's window to the world and the world's window to Iraq."

Transmission Details:

Nilesat:

Frequency: 11919 MHz; Polarization: horizontal; Symbol rate: 27500; FEC: 3/4

HotBird:

Frequency: 12380 MHz; Polarization: vertical; Symbol rate: 27500; FEC: 3/4

Source: BBC Monitoring research 16 Mar 06

AFGHANISTAN

19/03/2006 Afghan politician says Pakistan's TV ban sign of weakness

Text of report by Iranian radio from Mashhad on 19 March

[Presenter] Dear listeners, as you heard in the news bulletin, in an interview with my colleague Mr Sayed Eshaq Delju, an Afghan politician, has criticized the Pakistani government for banning the broadcasts of leading Afghan TV channels in Baluchistan. He said the decision went against international principles and urged the international media to condemn such acts. Here now is the interview in full:

[Interviewee] The Pakistani government's recent act of banning Afghan television broadcasts shows the weakness and helplessness of Pakistani officials when it comes to dealing with affairs in their own country. There is no justification for the decision taken by Pakistani officials. In fact, they have claimed that these television channels had failed to obtain legal permission for their broadcasts from officials in Pakistan. However, I would like to clarify that Pakistani TV channels are being broadcast through cable systems in Afghanistan without any restrictions.

[Correspondent] Do you think there is a specific reason for the Pakistani officials' decision?

[Interviewee] I think the Pakistani government does not want its wrongdoings to be heard and seen by people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in particular in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Moreover, tension between the two countries has recently heightened following the recent remarks by the Pakistani president, who criticized President Karzai for having no control over affairs in his country. Following that, the ban on broadcasts as well as the way Afghan refugees are being forced out of Pakistan can be viewed as negative reactions by the Pakistani government. In fact, Pakistan feels that the recent unrest in its tribal areas is being caused by Afghanistan and it is no longer in favour of strengthening friendly ties with the government of Afghanistan.

[Correspondent] What do you think about the impact of such acts on relations between the two countries? Do you not think that such acts may cause a deterioration in the friendly relations between these two Islamic countries?

[Interviewee] Well, it is difficult to comment on the impact of such acts. However, it is obvious to all that mutual cooperation between the two countries not only helps security in Afghanistan and Pakistan but also affects overall security in the region and the world. As a result, I believe that instead of taking intimidating actions against each other the two countries should think of a way to get rid of terrorists in their countries. That is not possible unless there is close coordination and collaboration.

[Correspondent] Thank you for your time.

Source: Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mashhad, in Dari 1330 gmt 19 Mar

WEST BANK & GAZA

24/03/2006 Masked armed men storm Al-Ru'ah TV offices in Bethlehem, destroy equipment

Excerpt from report by Najib Farraj entitled "Unknown armed men storm Al-Ru'ah TV offices and destroy all equipment" published by Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on 24 March

Early morning on Thursday [23 March], unknown armed men stormed Al-Ru'ah TV offices in Al-Dawhah near Bethlehem. The incident took place around 03:30 [local time] when an unknown number of armed men, with black masks on their faces, stormed the offices after breaking the main door. They entered a small room where the employee in charge of broadcasting went to bed less than half an hour earlier. The men destroyed the transmission equipment, television sets, computers and everything else they could reach, using rifle butts and sharp tools. The damage was described as serious and caused total disruption of transmission.

A Palestinian police force, the criminal investigation police and another force from the institutions' security apparatus affiliated with the Preventive Security arrived at the scene. They heard a detailed report on what happened. Bethlehem Governor Maj-Gen Salah al-Ta'mari also visited the TV offices. He denounced the incident and considered it not only an attack against Al-Ru'ah TV offices and employees, but also an attack against every honest citizen and the freedom of expression. He described the incident as an act alien to our people, their manners, customs and rules of conduct. [Passage omitted]

Journalist Muhammad Manasrah described the attack as a primitive method that cannot result in silencing the voice of Al-Ru'ah in defending people's causes. Journalist Hasan Abd-al-Jawad, member of the Palestinian Journalists' Association Administrative Board, described the attack as a condemned crime and a rejected method that aims to silence the free and courageous voice of the media.

Na'im al-Tubasi, head of the Palestinian Journalists' Association, condemned the attack against Al-Ru'ah and said that the association would not keep silent at such attacks. He added: "While the various mass media face an Israeli aggressive campaign, we find that a dissident group that does not share the morality of our people goes after the Palestinian press in favour of the Israeli entity and its plans."

The Journalists' Association also called for a sit-in at 10:00 on Friday [24 March] in the Church of the Nativity Square to protest the attack. [Passage omitted]

Source: Al-Quds, Jerusalem, in Arabic 24 Mar 06

AFGHANISTAN

25/03/2006 Afghan private TV resumes covering president's activities

Excerpt from report by Afghan independent Aina TV on 25 March

[Presenter] In addition, it is worth noting that [Afghan President] Hamed Karzai is ready to make an apology to Aina TV. Therefore, Aina TV has started covering his activities again. [Aina TV suspended covering events involving the president a few weeks ago because of a row between Aina staff and that of the presidential office. Aina reporters said that they were excluded from presidential press briefings and visits and only sympathetic journalists were invited, a claim denied by the presidential office.]

This step was taken following an agreement between Aina TV and the office of the president. [Passage omitted: details about Afghan President Hamed Karzai's participation in an international symposium in Turkey on "Global Terrorism and International Cooperation against Terrorism".]

Source: Aina TV, Sheberghan, in Dari 1530 gmt 25 Mar 06

QATAR

24/03/2006 Qatar: Al-Jazeera director-general interviewed on new structure, priorities

Text of report by Qatari Aljazeera.net website on 24 March

Waddah Khanfar, director of Al-Jazeera Satellite Network, has stated that the establishment of Al-Jazeera Network, announced a few months ago, will complement the administrative, technical and editorial integration of all Al-Jazeera channels and assist the organization in choosing its options regarding its economic and financial future.

Khanfar, who has been recently appointed to this post, will continue to serve as director-general of Al-Jazeera Arabic Channel. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera Net, he denied that the launching of an English speaking channel is meant to alleviate the pressure applied by the US administration on the network to change its editorial policy.

He emphasized that the launching of the new channel is a natural development to expand and broaden Al-Jazeera institutions technically and geographically.

The director-general of Al-Jazeera Network noted that Al-Jazeera will provide a qualitative contribution to the enormous information revolution and that it seeks to play an internationally pioneering role and reinforce its distinguished role in the Arab world and the developing nations.

The following is the text of the interview:

[Question] What are the goals intended from establishing Al-Jazeera Network?

[Khanfar] Al-Jazeera is no longer a news channel beamed to the Arabic-speaking audience. With the launching soon of the English and documentary channels, in addition to the two existing sports channels, it is natural for all these channels as well as the websites to come under a single network. This is necessary to enhance the integration among these institutions in view of the diversity of their interests and the broad geographic regions that they cover. It will also help reduce the cost and upgrade the level of effectiveness and performance.

There is no question that the new organization will consolidate the role of each of the affiliated institutions and, consequently, strengthen the overall network. It will also contribute to providing integrated services to the public and increase the network's chances of generating more revenues and achieving profitability.

So, the goals behind this move are diverse. They are administrative, organizational, economic, financial, editorial and professional goals.

[Question] As director of the new network, what are your management priorities?

[Khanfar] The topmost priority is to strengthen the network's institutional infrastructure. This can be achieved through dialogue with the directors of the channels to establish new administrative structures for them.

The second priority is to increase the editorial understanding and exchange experience and ideas through the appropriate mechanisms among the various channels, which include a large number of qualified and experienced personnel that have given Al-Jazeera its name as a leading news channels and that are expected to push the other channels to a new horizon of progress and advance.

While acknowledging that the English-language channel that addresses a different audience will have editorial priorities that are different from those of the Arabic channel, we stress that the news spirit will be the same and that a framework of harmony will be created.

Like the Arabic channel, the English channel will have the right to draft and develop its own policies that suit the nature of its audience.

The third priority is that the establishment of the network will be helpful in deciding upon the options related to its financial and economic future by increasing revenues and reducing costs. It will be helpful in achieving full self-sufficiency.

[Question] You focused on the Al-Jazeera's economic and financial future. Could you elaborate further on this point?

[Khanfar] Let us talk about advertisements, for instance. As is known, commercials, which represent the biggest source of income for satellite channels, are limited on Al-Jazeera despite the widespread presence of the channel, which qualifies it to achieve huge revenues.

However, in the Arab world advertisement to a large extent has political dimensions and many countries in the region impose restrictions on the advertisers and prevent them from placing their ads on certain channels. This has had a direct impact on us.

This requires a study of the options and alternatives available for the network to become profitable.

In the light of the accumulated administrative and technical experience, one of the options that we are working on is to use the name of Al-Jazeera as a registered trademark in advertisement, production and other tracks.

As an institution with a solid technical and administrative infrastructure and a longstanding experience, Al-Jazeera is in a position to benefit from the good reputation it enjoys.

[Question] How will your new post affect your role as director-general of the Arabic channel?

[Khanfar] Al-Jazeera Arabic channel has become a well-established name with its administrative and professional experience. The newsroom, for instance, enjoys a 10-year experience and is widely recognized for its competence. This will encourage me to delegate more powers so that the channel could work more effectively while abiding by the general policies set by the network.

[Question] Some people say that the establishment of the English channel is intended to alleviate the pressure applied by the US administration on Al-Jazeera to change its editorial policy, particularly towards Iraq and Palestine.

[Khanfar] This is absolutely not true. The launching of the English channel is a natural development to broaden and expand the Al-Jazeera institution in the technical and geographical domains. It comes as a natural response to the language needs of viewers.

The English channel has announced its goals and editorial policies, saying that it abides by the network's general spirit and the journalistic code of ethics to which all the network's journalists are committed. The English channel will operate a newsroom that covers the important geographic regions of Asia, America and Africa.

It is true that we have come under a series of clear and explicit criticism, which cannot be hidden or denied. It is known that politicians in the world try to impose their vision of the events on the media and steer the media to serve their political goals and objectives, but despite this Al-Jazeera has continued its editorial style that is committed to the firm principles of journalism and the code of professional honour that it has announced.

[Question] Despite this, do you believe that the launching of the English channel will ultimately alleviate this pressure?

[Khanfar] Undoubtedly this channel will lead to a broader and deeper understanding of events and developments for non-Arabic viewers. Al-Jazeera, which has offered a highly ethical, professional and committed style of media, will attract a broad and massive audience of viewers.

The pressure applied against the media is politically, and not professionally, motivated. Therefore, commitment to professionalism may not achieve the required change in the position of these politicians, who do not care about professionalism as much as they care about their own political interests and considerations.

[Question] Will the priority of the English channel be to address the Islamic audience in the West and the rest of the world or the Western audience in general?

[Khanfar] Both are of equal priority for us. We have taken into consideration the time difference among the various continents. There will be a newsroom in Kuala Lumpur that will beam newscasts for the Asian audience. This newsroom will be different from the newsrooms in London or Washington, which will take into account the different time zones of these regions. The English channel will also give attention to Africa.

The new channel will seek to reach out to viewers in many parts of the world to complement the work of the Arabic channel.

[Question] What addition could the English channel offer to the Western media?

[Khanfar] The Western media needs a new perspective different from what already exists, particularly since this media has become monotonous and focused on specific cultural understanding of the world events.

The arena in the West is wide open to whatever is new and outstanding in this regard, particularly since Al-Jazeera has always offered a comprehensive and in-depth coverage of the news with a perspective that goes beyond the news to offer bold and in-depth analysis.

Undoubtedly Al-Jazeera will be an addition to the huge information revolution. It seeks to establish a pioneering international role that augments its distinguished role in the Arab world and the developing nations.

Source: Aljazeera.net website, Doha, in Arabic 24 Mar 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
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