Satellite Chronicle
April 2006

PAKISTAN

08/04/2006 Pakistan religious alliance files motion against TV drama

Text of report by Pakistani newspaper The News website on 8 April

The Muttahida Majlis-e Amal [MMA] has submitted an adjournment motion in the National Assembly Secretariat against a PTV [Pakistan TV] play, Mojahid, aired on 23 March. The motion was signed by over 12 MMA MNAs [Member of National Assembly], including Dr Farid Paracha.

According a press release, the motion said that the play was highly poisonous and misleading to malign Islam and Jihad. "The PTV has seriously hurt the feeling of thousands of families of Kashmiri and Afghan martyrs besides insulting the spirits of martyrs. The play was aimed at promoting anti-Pakistan objectives of the Indian lobby and parliament should take strict notice of such an outrageous attempt," it added.

Source: The News website, Islamabad, in English 8 Apr 06

EGYPT

12/04/2006 Egypt: Journalists call for law to defend rights

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Cairo, 12 April: Hundreds of Egyptian journalists staged a sit-in outside the People's Assembly on Wednesday [12 April] protesting against the delay in the issuance of a law that defends journalists' rights.

The protesters said they want the parliament to pass a law that would protect them from detention in publication cases.

The journalists, who were joined by the chairman of the Press Syndicate, Jalal Arif, also demanded better pay.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 1600 gmt 12 Apr 06

IRAN

12/04/2006 Iran: Former vice-president says journalists working in "very insecure" climate

Text of article by Seyyed Mohammad Ali Abtahi entitled "The inadequate security of journalists." by Iranian newspaper E'temad website on 12 April

Yesterday I was in a meeting in which a number of editors of some reformist newspapers were also present. Earlier on, I had also spoken on the telephone with Mr Vahid Purostad. Purostad is a press lawyer who, in addition to being active in reformist newspapers, so far has published 11 volumes on the court cases involving the newspapers. Two nights ago when he left the newspaper office to walk home to his house he noticed that someone was following him. All of a sudden that man attacked him and placed a knife to his throat. After some scuffles when people gathered round him, he noticed that the man had stolen his file.

Mr Haqshenas, the editor of E'temad-e Melli [National Trust] newspaper, spoke about that incident and said that during the past few months, on six different occasions the windows of cars belonging to the journalists working for his newspaper had been smashed. It is strange that nothing was stolen from those cars, except once when the working file of one of the journalists that was in the car had been taken.

Quchani, the editor of Sharq newspaper, was urging the journalists that when they go home late at night, they should not go alone. He said: "This is what we do at Sharq newspaper." Hazrati, the managing editor of E'temad newspaper, who publishes a very professional newspaper, said that sometime ago a Molotov cocktail had been thrown at the newspaper building and the cooler had been set on fire, but it was extinguished soon.

Cases of individual threats, warning and intimidating the journalists that they should be careful about what they write, have occurred frequently during the past few months, and either directly or indirectly we have heard many reports about such incidents. Of course, many such reports are never published.

Such incidents have placed the people working for the newspapers in a very insecure climate, especially as many intellectuals have many bitter memories about such behaviour in the years before the reformist period. It is true that we cannot do anything [about these activities], but at least I find it incumbent to write these few words to show my sympathy for the journalists. Journalists are going through a hard time, but despite all these difficulties, they still continue to write for us and for you.

Under normal circumstances, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance, who has been a journalist himself in the past, should have been sensitive about ensuring the security of reformist journalists.

Source: E'temad website, Tehran, in Persian 12 Apr 06

SAUDI ARABIA

12/04/2006 Saudi minister details digital terrestrial TV project

Text of report in English by Saudi News Agency SPA

Riyadh, 12 April: Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Amin Madani, addressing a press meeting here last night, shed light on the project of the TV land digital transmission [digital terrestrial TV[, which will be introduced this year's summer.

Speaking at the meeting attended by Prince Turki Bin Sultan Bin Abd al-Aziz, the assistant minister of culture and information, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Information for Engineering Affairs Riyad Najm said the project, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, includes four channels for the TV programmes and four channel for the [radio] broadcasting programmes in addition to visual information services for more than 22 Saudi cities.

He noted that the project will benefit the local society, the business sector, the media sector, the non-governmental societies, the governmental sector and the members of the family.

On his part, Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Madani said the project aims at serving viewers, audiences and listeners.

Madani pointed out that the most sophisticated technology will be used in the project, and said the Ministry of Culture and Information, in cooperation with other governmental authorities, is working to revive the idea of the Saudi satellite which covers the Kingdom.

Answering questions raised by press men, Madani said the project does not aim at black-outing other satellite channels, and added that the project will increase the revenues of the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Source: Saudi News Agency SPA, Riyadh, in English 0950 gmt 12 Apr 06

12/04/2006 Saudi Arabia: Information minister cited on TV digital transmission project

Text of report in English by Saudi news agency SPA website

Riyadh, 12 April: Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Amin Madani, addressing a press meeting here last night, shed light on the project of the TV Land Digital Transmission, which will be introduced this year's summer.

Speaking at the meeting attended by Prince Turki Bin-Sultan Bin-Abd-al-Aziz, the assistant minister of culture and information, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Information for Engineering Affairs Riyad Najim, said the project which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, includes four channels for the television programmes and four channel for the broadcasting programmes, in addition to visual information services for more than 22 Saudi cities.

He noted that the project will benefit the local society, the business sector, the media sector, the non-governmental societies, the governmental sector and the members of the family.

On his part, Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Madani said the project aims at serving viewers, audiences and listeners.

Madani pointed out that the most sophisticated technology will be used in the project, and said the Ministry of Culture and Information, in cooperation with other governmental authorities, is working to revive the idea of the Saudi satellite which covers the kingdom.

Answering questions raised by press men, Madani said the project does not aim at black-outing other satellite channels, and added that the project will increase the revenues of the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Source: SPA news agency website, Riyadh, in English 0955 gmt 12 Apr 06

WEST BANK & GAZA

10/04/2006 Palestinian paper urges Syria to release its two employees

Text of unattributed report headlined "Al-Hayat al-Jadidah urges Damascus to release two employees", published by Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadidah on 10 April

Syria arrested two Al-Hayat al-Jadidah employees upon entering the country in mid-March. The two are Nizam Thabit, a computer maintenance technician, and Ahmad al-Salfiti, son of the popular poet Rajih al-Salfiti, who also works for the Gaza-based Pal-Media News Agency that belongs to the communication group.

The reason for their arrest is still unclear. The two said that the Syrian authorities' became suspicious when they found Israeli currency in their possession and consequently they were arrested. It should be noted that every Palestinian travelling abroad normally carries Israeli currency, which is used in the Palestinian territories. Al-Hayat al-Jadidah calls on the brothers in Syria to release its employees in light of the unfounded charge. It, however, affirms its understanding of Syria's concern for its national security at a time when the country is encountering a myriad of conspiracies.

Source: Al-Hayat al-Jadidah, Ramallah, in Arabic 10 Apr 06

AFGHANISTAN

19/04/2006 One injured as rocket hits HQ of Afghan state radio, TV

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

Kabul, 20 April [Kabul time]: One person was injured as a rocket hit the building of Radio and Television of Afghanistan (RTA) close to the US embassy Wednesday night [19 April].

The rocket hit the building of the RTA at 11.05 p.m. (local time) [1835 gmt], police officials told Pajhwok Afghan News. Soon after the big bang, that rocked the city, vehicles were heard with emergency sirens moving towards the site of the blast.

Local police confirmed the rocket hit the RTA building but they would not say about casualties as the building is close to the US embassy in the posh Wazir Akbar Khan locality and the whole area was cordoned [off] by foreign troops.

An official of the Accident Investigations Department, Sayed Hafiz, told this news agency one person was injured in the late-night attack.

Zabihollah Rahmani, deputy chief of the 10th police district, where the rocket landed, said the area was close to the US embassy and NATO headquarters. He said the RTA building and the surrounding areas had been cordoned [off] by the NATO troops and no-one was allowed to go there.

The official added the building had been damaged and windowpanes of many residential and official buildings had been smashed due to the big bang. The blast spread fear among residents of the nearby areas and many harassed people rushed out of their houses.

Wazir Akbar Khan is the posh locality of this Afghan capital, housing mostly foreign missions and NGO offices.

This is the third rocket attack on the area over the past five months. Earlier, a rocket was fired the day when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was arriving in Kabul. The second time, a rocket was fired when Canadian premier was staying in the capital.

Source: Pajhwok Afghan News website, Kabul, in English 2000 gmt 19 Apr 06

AFGHANISTAN

20/04/2006 Afghan speaker warns TV crews to respect privacy of vote of confidence

Speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament Mohammad Yunos Qanuni has issued a warning to TV crews to respect the privacy of the vote of confidence in President Hamed Karzai's new cabinet and refrain from zooming in on MPs when they are marking their voting papers.

With Afghan state TV, Tolo TV and Ariana broadcasting live proceedings from the Afghan parliament on 20 April as MPs decide whether or not to give a vote of confidence to the new cabinet, the Speaker twice called on TV crews to respect the secrecy of the vote or be asked to leave. He particularly mentioned Tolo TV cameramen.

Despite these warnings about the importance of the privacy of the vote, Kabul MP Ramazan Bashardost, the former planning minister and outspoken critic of the government, ignored the procedure whereby MPs are to go into a side room to mark their voting cards after receiving a yellow booklet containing 25 voting cards bearing the names and photos of all 25 ministers seeking a vote of confidence. He started marking his voting cards in the full glare of TV cameras, despite repeated warnings from the Speaker and secretary.

The procedure is that once MPs have marked their voting cards, they must deposit them in 25 boxes - one for each minister.

As well as the live proceedings, the three channels occasionally interrupt their broadcasts to carry news bulletins or studio discussions with a panel of experts covering all aspects of the two-week hearings.

Source: National Television Afghanistan, Kabul, in Dari and Pashto 0445 gmt 20 Apr 06

IRAQ

21/04/2006 New report offers pessimistic view of Iraqi news media

A lack of rules and protection, together with a wave of sectarian influence, are among the biggest problems facing the Iraqi news media since March 2003, according to a new report mentioned on the Washington-based International Journalists' Network (IJNet) website, http://ijnet.org.

Writers Without Borders, a group of Arab writers and intellectuals based in Germany, produced the 33-page report. It focuses on the conditions of media, culture, academics and freedom of expression since the US-led invasion, and criticizes the conduct of the US and Iraqi governments and armed forces.

"Journalism became an extremely dangerous profession, despite the false image of press freedom that the current regime and the occupiers are trying to present," the report says. "Media [in Iraq] look to be sectarian and inciting, and they stand distant from professionalism and objectivity."

According to IJNet, the report highlights the conditions of Iraqi media professionals who face threats, physical danger and financial difficulties. It says print and broadcast media in Iraq are primarily controlled by sectarian, religious or political groups.

The report is available in Arabic at (PDF format) http://www.kuttab.org/maqalat/Taqreer_iraq.pdf or (HTML format) http://www.kuttab.org/maqalat/taqrer_iraq.htm.

Writers Without Borders: http://www.kuttab.org/.

Source: IJNet website, Washington DC, in English 21 Apr 06

JORDAN

21/04/2006 Jordan: Activists reject imprisonment clause in Press, Publications law

Text of report in English by Jordan Times website on 21 April

Amman: Deputies, media figures and activists on Thursday [20 April] renewed their rejection of any legislative provision that sanctions the imprisonment of journalists for press and publications offences.

At the fourth session of the Media-Parliamentary Forum yesterday, panellists called for accurate definitions of "press crimes" so as to prevent a situation where ambiguous provisions open the door for courts to convict journalists.

Deputy Zuhayr Abul Raghib, a lawyer by profession, called for allowing a lawyer to represent an accused journalist in court, without the need for the defendant to be present at the hearing.

Meanwhile, Imad Abd al-Rahman, a member of the Jordan Press Association (JPA), urged his association to take the initiative and come up with a proposed Press and Publications Law.

The government has drawn criticism from the JPA, press freedom activists and officials for withdrawing a version of an amended Press and Publications Law from Parliament, which was studied and endorsed by the Lower House National Guidance Committee.

The committee insisted on removing a clause prohibiting the imprisonment of journalists, while it endorsed heavy fines suggested by the government as an alternative to prison terms.

MP Taysir Fiyani said members of the National Guidance Committee, which supported the "notorious provisions," should have been called to the meeting "to defend themselves."

But Deputy Muhammad Arsalan defended the Lower House, saying that MPs "do not possess sufficient legal expertise to discuss laws, partly from pressures as a result of the huge number of laws they have to debate."

As a result of amendments made by the government in response to the committee's comments, the law now retains the imprisonment clause and the "exaggerated fines," according to critics.

In response, the JPA announced a series of protests and demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Maruf Bakhit, but called off the action after receiving assurances that its demands would be met.

The decision was taken after JPA President Tariq Mumani met with the premier, who promised to include a clear provision stipulating the abolishment of jail sentences for journalists.

Source: Jordan Times website, Amman, in English 21 Apr 06

SUDAN

21/04/2006 Southern Sudan denies expelling national TV, radio team

Text of the press release issued by the Ministry of Information, Radio and TV in Juba, southern Sudan, published in English by Sudanese newspaper Khartoum Monitor on 21 April

The Republic of Sudan: Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), Ministry of Information, Radio and TV Juba:

The Al-Intibaha [Khartoum-based newspaper] published a news story on 19 April 2006 that states that the government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) dismissed the National TV and radio teams and the Suna representatives and closed down all their offices in the southern states.

Al-Intibaha added that all the mentioned media teams faced great difficulties in performing their duties and they had been told by GOSS to return immediately to Khartoum .

Therefore the Ministry of Information, Radio and TV would like to declare the following to the public: the GOSS never thought of dismissing the media team from Juba or from any part of southern Sudan as proved by our message issued on 12 April 2006 to the director of Suna [Sudan News Agency].

Regarding the rumours that these media teams were met with difficulties in performing their mission was a big lie as the GOSS provided all the necessary facilities for national TV and radio team, a backing never offered by any southern or national government over the last 35 years.

Two cars hired at 200$ per day were assigned for the seven-person team , in addition to convenient accommodation and food since 28/12/2005 up to 14/4/2006.

The GOSS also availed the team the opportunity to cover the first meeting of the Political Bureau of the SPLM in Rumbek as of 2-4 April 2006, as well as the opportunity to cover the political address of the first vice-president, the president of GOSS, before the South Legislative Assembly on 10/4/2006, in addition to celebrations of the prophet's birth in Juba.

The ministry asks all TV and broadcasting departments, and Suna to raise their complaint to senior officials in the GOSS stating their representative had been subject to harassment over their mission in the south.

Last week, we requested Eng Al Tayyib al Mustafa, chairman of the board of directors of al Intibaha daily to let his journalist learn about accuracy in publishing news and stop publishing opinions that always offend the south.

The Ministry of information, Radio and TV has opened its doors to Sudanese press to convey the news it liked, provided that it sticks to accuracy, objectivity and honesty.

Mustafa Biong Majak, Director General of Ministry of Information, Radio and TV, GOSS on behalf of Undersecretary of Ministry of Information , Radio and TV, GOSS.

Source: Khartoum Monitor, Khartoum, in English 21 Apr 06

WEST BANK & GAZA

13/04/2006 Hamas plans own satellite TV channel, increased newspaper publication

Text of article by Khalid Ma'ali headlined "Despite weak resources, Hamas media achieved successes through the Palestinian Information Centre and the weekly newspaper Al-Risalah"; published by Palestinian newspaper Al-Risalah on 13 April; subheadings as published:

Salfit: An easy and smooth reading of the mechanisms for communication between the Hamas movement and the Palestinian public underlines the importance of the media, which is a sword with two edges with which Hamas dealt with flexibility and high professionalism, and reveals the role which the media played in securing victory for the movement.

Many of those who supervised Hamas's media campaign in the West Bank said: "Hamas's victory and win in the legislative elections would not have happened if there were no since efforts and diligent and continuous work based on a divine course and a scientific study of the nature of things and universal laws. This was not a frivolous and unexpected victory, as some quarters had claimed. Scientific plans and programmes had been adopted to run the propaganda machine. The efforts had clear aims and objectives, above all to use the media to turn the state of acceptance the movement enjoyed in the Palestinian street into a yes vote for Hamas at the ballot box.

Hamas's sources said that the movement had relied first and foremost on the blessings of Almighty God, but that it had not neglected for one moment the objective factors and reasons necessary for victory. In this respect, a Hamas leader said: "The decision to participate in the elections was studied in a conscientious and mature manner. In light of that study, the decision was made to participate. Therefore, it was unacceptable that we would be neglectful or lax in dealing with the election issue."

Sources knowledgeable about Hamas propaganda campaign stressed that the movement particularly focused on the media aspect of the campaign, enlisting its best leaders and media experts and specialists for it. In this context, the sources said: "During the election period, Hamas used the art of administration to deal with the media. If you had watched the media outlets, you would have found that all the news published by the movement and all the stances taken by it served the movement's reputation and popularity among citizens. Hamas realized the importance of the media and successfully dealt with both its negative and positive aspects, enlisting them to serve its image among the masses."

Distinguished aspects

A journalist who worked as a correspondent of the Palestinian Media Network in Nablus spoke about Hamas media performance.

He said: "As a media practitioner, I can say that what distinguished the Hamas media machine was its great harmony and concordance. No speech departed from the movement's election general programme, from the biggest constituency, Hebron, to the smallest constituency, like Salfit/Tubas, which had one candidate." He added: "Hamas, which contested the elections by means of coalition lists in several governorates of the West Bank, regulated the rhythm of its candidates consisting of Hamas members and independents allied with it in a unique way. Although its lists of candidates contained the names of famous leaders and thinkers, all candidates committed themselves to the movement's general position. The media outlets used by Hamas also worked harmoniously, with each outlet supplementing the other. It was noticed that media coverage was intensified through statements in several languages posted on websites belonging to the movement, like the Palestinian Information Centre, and through the newspapers Al-Risalah and Minbar al-Islah. Furthermore, radio and satellite TV interviews were intensified."

Flexibility and dynamism

Hamas did not deal in a stereotypical way with the various media outlets; it was vigilant, alert and ready for any eventuality. There was high coordination between its ranks to the point that its spokesmen in Gaza were proficiently answering all questions on various new developments in the West Bank, even if they concerned small matters. In this context, journalist Suhayl Khalaf, correspondent of the newspaper Al-Quds and lecturer at Al-Najah National University [in Nablus] said: "Hamas surprised us by its knowledge of all issues during the election campaign. For example, we would receive a local statement on a certain event in one of the villages or refugee camps in the Nablus governorate [in the West Bank], only to be surprised that Abu-Zuhri was speaking about that event on satellite TV channels from Gaza. It was obvious that they were working as though they were sitting in one operations room that was preparing and publishing information and quickly and professionally disseminating it to the broadest possible sector of voters."

Those who followed the mechanisms for publishing the activities of the [pro-Hamas] List of Change and Reform noticed that there was a uniform tune played by the pens of journalists working for the movement. The style was cohesive and sober and was clearly based on experience in how to steer news and information and use them to attract the largest number of votes. In this context, observers and watchers of the Hamas media campaign said the movement enlisted an army of writers to take care of the most minute details of a news event. Palestinian media sources said the municipal elections were tantamount to a dress rehearsal for the legislative elections. Through the results of municipal elections, the movement learned the best way needed to address the voters and win their support. Hamas avoided anything, including appearance and performance, which could dampen voters' support for the movement.

Rommel al-Suwayti, correspondent of the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat in Nablus, noted that Hamas followed a studied media course, using all experiences it had gained to its advantage. In this context, he said: "Noticeably, Hamas's distinguished media performance did not stop after its election win, but continued in various formats compatible with the new situation. This is another thing that distinguished Hamas from others, who cut their contacts with their supporters and disappeared from the arena after the elections. Hamas had delivered a media message to the effect that its task did not end with its victory and that it continued to muster the media and use it to serve its political and social projects now that it had become under the dome of parliament."

Offence and defence

Hamas, whose victory was met by a Western and Zionist media offensive, was superior in its counter-offensive, about which journalist Khalil Mabruk said: "Hamas media discourse was characterized by a tone that was moderate, convincing and scientific, and that tried to cope with the difficult situation that had arisen after its victory. The movement avoided impromptu reaction and personalization of domestic and foreign positions in its response to the incitement campaigns."

Al-Mabruk also said the Hamas discourse paired the transmission of the image to the local, Arab and Islamic society off with the world at large. In this context, he said: "It was clear that Hamas had preserved its gained crowd by reaffirming its programme on the basis of which it was elected. It continued reiterating its conviction of the inevitability of the occupation recognizing the Palestinian people's rights and granting them these rights, instead of the Palestinians recognizing the occupation. On the foreign level, it had reaffirmed that its positions were legitimate, that it was open to the whole world, and that it came to power as a result of the Palestinian people's exercise of democracy, and hence it deserved respect. These were one of the factors that helped break the isolation and siege that the occupation and the US administration had tried to impose on it."

Distinguished media discourse after the election

After Hamas's great win, great discipline was noticed among both its members and leaders. No mammoth processions were staged, out of concern for the feelings of others. No emotional or boastful statements were issued. There were rational statements at home and abroad calling on everybody to participate in building the homeland. It was also noticed that the Hamas media machine continued to work. Plans were submitted to develop and improve this media machine commensurate with the great victory it had achieved.

There is a proposal to issue Manbar al-Islah on a weekly basis and to transform the weekly newspaper Al-Risalah into a daily newspaper that will follow the activities and functions of future governments, now that this newspaper has proven its distinction and superiority and thousands of copies of it are now distributed. This also applies to the Palestinian Information Centre website, which now counts thousands of visitors daily.

Future media plan

Interestingly, Hamas is thinking of setting up its own satellite TV channel, similar to the Lebanese Hezbollah Al-Manar TV channel, or at least a TV channel working from abroad through which the movement would be able to address its viewers at home and abroad.

As a first step, Al-Aqsa Television will start experimental transmissions from Gaza and is expected to achieve great success because the Muslim crowd is anxious to see a distinguished Islamic media.

[In January 2006 Hamas launched test broadcasts on a terrestrial TV channel in Gaza named Al-Aqsa, the same name as the radio station that Hamas has operated in the Gaza Strip since June 2003. On 22 January the Prosecutor-General's Office decided to shut down all TV stations in the West Bank and Gaza that did not have permits to operate, including Al-Aqsa TV.]

Although the occupation constitutes an obstacle to Hamas developing its future media plan, it is more likely that it will overcome this obstacle. The movement now controls many levers. Therefore, it must develop and intensify its media performance and address its media message to the crowd with maximum speed.

This is because many foreign and domestic quarters are lying in wait for the movement, are strongly opposing it and wishing it failure. These quarters will even spread false and misleading rumours to keep the public away from Hamas.

Source: Al-Risalah, Gaza, in Arabic 13 Apr 06

EGYPT

22/04/2006 Egypt: Council strips Al-Ahram paper editor of immunity

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Cairo, 22 April: The Egyptian Shura [Consultative] Council agreed during a session held on Saturday [22 April] under its Speaker Safwat al-Sharif on stripping Ibrahim Nafie, former board chairman of the state-owned al-Ahram Group and editor-in-chief of the mass circulation daily Al Ahram, of immunity.

The decision was taken to allow the public prosecution to investigate charges of squandering of state funds levelled against Nafie, who had been at the helm of the multi-billion-dollar group for nearly two and a half decades.

The Constitutional and Legislative Committee of the Shura Council, the Upper House of parliament, on April 12 okayed that Nafie be stripped of his immunity.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 1157 gmt 22 Apr 06

IRAN

22/04/2006 Iran press: Editorial suggests state broadcaster cover range of political views

Text of commentary by Sorush Ershad:" The Iranian Voice and Vision," by Iranian newspaper Mardom-Salari website on 22 April

1. In accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Voice and Vision (radio and television) is under state control. There is no possibility for the private sector to enter into this domain. For this reason the Voice and Vision of Iran has always been called a "national" media - one that portrays all of Iran's thoughts and views.

2. The actions of the Voice and Vision have always come under criticism from reformists, especially during the reformists' period in power. Reformists believed that when it came to selecting key items of news the Voice and Vision did not observe neutrality. They believed that it censored much of their news.

These differences of opinion reached their peak when the sixth Majlis was conducting its research. The publication of the results of that research was followed by a sharp reaction from the then head of the Voice and Vision, 'Ali Larijani.

But this was not the only confrontation between the reformists and the Voice and Vision. A programme called "Cheragh" [Persian: Light] was broadcast on the Voice and Vision and suggested that Khatami's supporters had a hand in the serial murders. At that time the problems between the reformist government and the Voice and Vision caused Larijani to boycott cabinet meetings for some time. However, this issue was resolved some time later.

In any case, during the eight years of the reformist administration there were several similar differences when the reformists and the Voice and Vision confronted one another. Sometimes these differences came out into the open and sometimes they remained secret.

3. The actions of the Voice and Vision were such during the last presidential elections, that they also satisfied some in the reformist camp to some extent. Because of special and unique sensitivities during these elections the Voice and Vision observed the rules of neutrality to a certain extent. We saw different views and ideas during various news-oriented and political round-table discussions. There was a similar situation with regard to organizing candidates' programmes.

After the elections the new head of the Voice and Vision indicated that this trend would continue and said that there would be different ideas floated at round-table discussions.

4. There is however the question of whether or not we can give the same good grade toward the work of the Voice and Vision, several months after the ninth presidential elections. Can we give put same good grade on its report card that we did during the presidential election campaigns?

Political analysts, especially those that are not in the conservative camp are not that positive when it comes to the Voice and Vision's coverage of news involving other political movements. They have a lot of complaints in this regard.

Under these circumstances, would it not be better if the Voice and Vision made a more strenuous effort to carry out its national duty and cover news of all Iranian movements?

The suggestion from the Front for Strengthening Democracy [Persian: Jebhe-ye Tahkim-e Democracy] for the Voice and Vision to devote one hour a day to coverage of other political movements could have a significant effect on improving the general opinion and perception of the state media.

5. Because the Voice and Vision is considered to be Iran's national media, it would be a good idea if it adopted a national line when it comes to news coverage and using the services of analysts. It would be best if it took advantage of using different and varied views and ideas. That way it could ensure that it would get across to the best possible audience.

Source: Mardom-Salari website, Tehran, in Persian 22 Apr 06

WEST BANK & GAZA

21/04/2006 Palestinian minister warns of "distortion campaign", urges media to check source

Text of unattributed report from Gaza entitled "Rizqah asks media to be accurate in reporting news" published by Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadidah on 21 April

Minister of Information Dr Yusuf Rizqah has stressed that the media must be careful and precise in reporting news and statements. He urged the media to refrain from carrying biased rumours which aim at harming our history and our people's struggle, as well as Palestinian relations with some of the Arab states, especially neighbouring ones. Rizqah further asked the representatives of local, Arab and international media who work in the Palestinian territories to double-check items with official sources, such as government spokesman Dr Ghazi Hamad and the ministers. Rizqah said that a distortion campaign was under way, adding that biased statements were disseminated to misrepresent the facts and create confusion in the Palestinian street.

EGYPT

26/04/2006 Egypt: Western media not totally objective, says MENA chief

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA

Paris, 26 April: Western media are not totally unbiased, said MENA Board Chairman and Chief Editor Abdullah Hassan.

Speaking to a workshop organized by the Arab World Institute (IMA) on Wednesday [26 April], Mr Hassan said, progress achieved in Western media, technology-wise and in terms of professionalism, does not mean that certain ends could be served.

"Western media have associated Islam with terror," he cited as an example.

The workshop addresses the image of the other in Arab and Western media in the light of the recent crisis brought about by the cartoons published in Denmark and some other European countries affronting Prophet Muhammad.

Source: MENA news agency, Cairo, in English 1822 gmt 26 Apr 06

27/04/2006 Egyptian security forces arrest Al-Jazeera Cairo bureau chief

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 27 April

Al-Jazeera Cairo bureau chief will appear before the Supreme State Security Prosecution Office in Cairo for interrogation following his arrest by the security forces on charges of broadcasting false information and statements that could disrupt the Egyptian public opinion, security, and stability. Husayn Abd-al-Ghani was forcibly led from the city of Dahab where he was covering the recent bombings incidents there.

Jamal Fahmi, member of the Egyptian Press Association, has described the arrest as a kidnapping operation. Abd-al-Ghani was arrested by people wearing civilian clothes, who said that they were members of the security services.

In a telephone call with Al-Jazeera, Husayn Abd-al-Ghani said that the security personnel treated him in an inhumane manner, and prohibited him from calling his family or the [Al-Jazeera] channel bureau.

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 0710 gmt 27 Apr 06

27/04/2006 Egypt reports arrest of Al-Jazeera Cairo office chief

Text of report by Egyptian news agency MENA website

Cairo, 27 April: The security services have arrested Husayn Abd-al-Ghani, director of Al-Jazeera TV satellite channel office in Cairo, last night on orders from State Security Higher Prosecution in order to interrogate him regarding accusations levelled at him for broadcasting untrue news reports and inciting propaganda which can cause confusion in public opinion.

The director of Al-Jazeera TV satellite channel office in Cairo was brought before the State Security Higher Prosecution at 0100 [local time] this morning and the latter decided to detain him and make him appear before it at midday today.

Source: MENA news agency website, Cairo, in Arabic 0913 gmt 27 Apr 06

KAZAKHSTAN

29/04/2006 Kazakh minister lashes out at private TV channel

Excerpt from report by Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency

Astana, 29 April: Kazakh Minister of Culture and Information Yermukhamet Yertysbayev has warned the management of the [Kazakh] KTK commercial TV channel about the need to observe the law.

The KTK management (...) [ellipsis throughout as published] probably think that they can do whatever they want. They are deeply mistaken. (...) We will not permit an abuse of freedom of speech. Everything KTK has been broadcasting is a gross violation of the country's constitution, which says that the citizens have the right to get accurate information," Yertysbayev said in an interview published in a new edition of the Epokha weekly.

He called on the KTK employees and management "to observe the Kazakh constitution, the law on the mass media (...) and to cooperate to the benefit of the people instead of pursuing narrow corporate interests".

The minister said that KTK had repeatedly spread "undisguised slander" and "a full distortion of current events".

At the same time, Yertysbayev said that "the Kazakh citizens probably remember a strange strike staged by KTK staff in November 2001". He also drew attention to how KTK covered the events surrounding the murder of well-known Kazakh [opposition] politician Altynbek Sarsnebayuly (also known as Altynbek Sarsenbayev) on the outskirts of Almaty in February this year.

After the murder of [well-known Kazakh opposition politician] Altynbek Sarsenbayev, KTK put enormous pressure on the country's leadership over several days. What is that? Why is the private TV channel trying to govern the country and to carry out staff reshuffles?" the minister said.

Responding to criticism levelled at him in KTK's Feature of the Week programme, Yertysbayev said that this TV channel "was slandering" him. He emphasized that "the ministry has enough instruments for influence. The KTK channel is the most flagrant violator of the fifty-fifty provision (balance between programmes in Kazakh and Russian) of the law on broadcasting. We have already warned them about this, and we will appeal to the prosecutor's office in order to impose a large administrative fine on KTK".

We will set clear deadlines for bringing broadcasting into line with the law," the minister said. "At the ministry, we will consider the issues of limiting frequencies or revoking a broadcasting licence entirely."

[Passage omitted: KTK stopped broadcasting for several days in November 2001 ]

[In a separate report by Interfax-Kazakhstan at 1623 gmt on 29 April, Minister Yertysbayev was quoted as saying that he was convinced that full state control over the country's Khabar TV channel should be re-established.

The fuller version of the interview to be processed form the Epokha weekly]

Source: Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency, Almaty, in Russian 1834 gmt 29 Apr 06

IRAN

29/04/2006 Iranian website devoted to "martyrdom-seekers" resumes activity

Text of report by Iranian Mehr news agency

Tehran, 29 April: With the resumed activity of the martyrdom-seekers website, which was blocked by America some time ago, the Internet registration of martyrdom-seekers worldwide has begun.

According to Mehr's political affairs reporter, Esteshhad website was launched in early Esfand [late February] as a site specializing in martyrdom-seeking operations and it was able to attract many visitors in a short time. But the site's server, which was rented from the American company Data Centre, was blocked because of opposition from American intelligence organizations.

The Americans, who had blocked Esteshhad website contrary to the regulations relating to Internet sites, did not confine themselves to this; they also fined the intermediary company hundreds of dollars. But now the site has resumed activity with a new server.

The Commemoration HQ for the Martyrs of Islam's World Movement registers all volunteers worldwide for martyrdom-seeking operations on this site.

The Internet site is available at http://www.esteshhad.com/.

Source: Mehr news agency, Tehran, in Persian 1031 gmt 29 Apr 06

30/04/2006 Iran press: BBC "on Iran's side" over nuclear issue

Text of editorial by Sadeq Zibakalam: "The nuclear case and winning public opinion", published by the Iranian newspaper Sharq website on 30 April

In reaction to referral of Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council [UNSC], the BBC's Tim Sebastian said the Iran-US conflict has entered a sensitive and difficult stage: the battle over world opinion. In Sebastian's view, what decides the outcome of the row is world opinion rather than technical arguments. He said, America will try to convince world opinion that Iran's nuclear programme threatens global stability and security; that Iran's ultimate goal is acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, while on the other side, Iran will try to convince the world that its nuclear programme is peaceful and does not pose a threat to regional and global stability and security, as that it does not pursue nuclear weapons. He said America will make every effort to draw a frightening, violent and threatening image of Iran and its nuclear programme for the world and Iran should try to convince the world that the country and its nuclear programme do not pose a threat to the world.

Regardless of whether we agree with Tim Sebastian's analysis or not, it is realistic. For the past two years, America's strategy toward Iran's nuclear programme has been to promote the belief that Iran pursues nuclear weapons to use against other nations (especially Israel) and possibly provide to dangerous regimes and even terrorist organizations for which it must be stopped. What existing facts indicate and how world experts and IAEA inspection reports portray Iran's nuclear programme is not of much consequence for Americans. In response to Al-Baradi'i's report to the UNSC, John Bolton, the American ambassador to the United Nations immediately said, "The report indicates that Iran is in pursuit of acquiring a nuclear weapons capability." That is while there were no such indications in Al-Baradi'i's report. George Bush also reminded the world of the need to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions and American foreign policy's "angel" of war and radicalism [Condoleezza Rice] warned world opinion that the free and democratic world can show no more patience or self-restraint against Iran's nuclear threat. In other words, what no American leader has paid attention to is the contents of Al-Baradi'i's report on Iran's nuclear programme.

Although American leaders, including the US president, talk of "negotiation" and "finding a solution" on the surface, a deeper look at Washington's approach toward Iran's nuclear case clearly reveals that "negotiation" and "finding a solution" are nothing more than a meaningless chorus in White House discourse. "Negotiation" and "finding a solution" are in fact mere decorations in American diplomacy toward Iran's nuclear issue while America is really trying to build global consensus against Iran to impose sanctions in the first step followed by a military strike. What complicates the matter for America is that no country but Israel supports a military option against Iran. Even the UK, as America's closest ally is not showing an appetite for a military option against Iran. Then there are others including Russia and China that oppose even sanctions on Iran, let alone a military attack. But the Americans will not give up so easy. They finally managed to take Iran to the UNSC after two years of relentless efforts and are not prepared to see the case return to the IAEA.

The fact is that America has not achieved much success so far which we owe to its tragedy in Iraq rather than to our resourcefulness because we have not done much to win world opinion. Just look at our diplomatic language on the nuclear issue. Our tone and discourse is directed at telling off the Americans rather than attracting world opinion. Instead of using a language that thwarts American efforts to win world opinion, we are bent on snarling at the White House to show them that we do not fear their threats.

In the last couple of days before the UNSC deadline was up and Al-Baradi'i submitted his report, international media was focused on Iran's reactions and comments but what the world heard from Iranian officials was that Iran is not concerned one bit with the UNSC and its decisions. Even if that is the case and we hold no value for international institutions (which in itself has room for debate), common sense demands that we do not announce such a thing so outspokenly and derisively. No-one would think that we are showing weakness or fear if we do not. We should not speak as if the opinion of others including our opponents is of no value for us. Our forefathers said, "The enemy should not be considered inferior and helpless." That is while we are doing just the opposite.

During the New Year holidays when we were on vacation, Tim Sebastian moderated an international debate in Doha, Qatar on George Bush's remark that "Iran poses the most serious threat to Middle East stability and security." The sides consisted of an Arab television personality and an Iranian woman journalist in support of Bush's remark and two professors, one British and one Iranian, arguing that Iran's nuclear programme does not pose a threat to the region despite what America and its allies are trying to induce. Hundreds of students, Arab journalists, Qatari officials and global media representatives attended the debate to vote for either side at the end. For many, the result was unexpected. The Arab majority audience voted 64 to 36 in favour of Iran.

A few days later, the BBC broadcasted the Doha Debate, which was viewed by 200 to 300 million viewers worldwide. Tim Sebastian and the BBC are on Iran's side or its saviour, but they are not wrong. The battle of Iran and America is about winning over world opinion, not about the nuclear programme's technical details.

Source: Sharq website, Tehran in Persian 30 Apr 06

WEST BANK & GAZA

30/04/2006 Palestinian Information Ministry urges media to reflect "national spirit"

Text of report by Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website on 30 April

The Information Ministry has called on media institutions to abide by the information discourse that is in harmony with the high national spirit currently prevailing in the Palestinian society. In a statement a copy of which reached the Ma'an News Agency, the ministry called on journalists and media figures to use the phrase "the government of the Palestinian people" instead of the "Hamas government" and "the ministers of the Palestinian government" instead of "Hamas ministers".

The ministry said that the use of phrases noted above did not contribute to ending the siege on the Palestinian people. It indicated that the Palestinian government, which was elected by the Palestinian people, was the government of all people. It further noted that the ministry was closely following the local media discourse to draw their attention to the need to adhere to national terms and avoid instigative and factional terms or else be legally questioned.

Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in Arabic 30 Apr 06

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Copyright 2006 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
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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