Gov’t Halts Broadcast of Al-Hiwar Satellite Channel
The London based Al-Hiwar satellite channel stated that the administration of the Egyptian Nile Sat has stopped the broadcast of the channel on Tuesday April 1st 2008 without prior notice or giving reasons by the Egyptian company. In its statement, the channel stated that the decision was unexpected and unjustified. Al-Hiwar expressed its deep sorrow and condemnation of such a procedure.
In a phone call from London, Zaher Berawi, head of the programs department in the channel, said that the did not receive any notices from the side of the Egyptian administration regarding its intention of stopping the channel”s broadcast; this is against the professional standards and indicates that there are covert reasons for this decision and that the Egyptian government is not at ease with the highly free tackled issues by the channel, especially those issues dealing with Egypt”s conditions.
Berawi indicated that the channel is now working on providing suitable alternatives for broadcasting the channel for its all fans allover the Arab world; the channel could broadcast through “Atlantic Bird” satellite on which Nile Sat receives the frequency. The `Azzam At-Tameemi, manager of the Islamic and Political Thought Institute in Britain and the greatest shareholder in the channel, said that there are many pressure practices on the Egypt in the same time in which the channel adopted a positive attitude regarding the Palestinian issue.
The channel organized a TV campaign calling for the stoppage of the Gaza siege that made Al-Hiwar channel a leading channel in this period in Palestine after Al-Jazeera TV channel. He said that the channel refused a proposal made by an Israeli satellite for broadcasting through it by less than 25% of the cost of the Egyptian Nile Sat. They refused because of the channel”s static attitude towards the normalization of relations with Israel.
In a call with the administration of satellite broadcasting at the Egyptian company for satellite broadcasting to realize the company”s comment on the statement issued by Al-Hiwar, the anonymous speaker told the editor to send a fax or an e-mail to know the comment of the company; however we did not receive any comments till the publication.
The Arab Network for Human Rights information (HRInfo) condemned the halting of the channel”s broadcast on the Nile Sat without giving reasons.
In its statement, HRInfo stated that such a decision is against all professional values and standards, and indicates that the Egyptian government is keen on muzzling the freedoms of any honest media aiming at communication with the Arabs. The statement adds that such a decision; described as “heinous”, denotes the falsity of the detective Arab Media Charter.
Jamal `Eid, executive manager of HRInfo, said: “we knew that there are many restrictions and blatant control on the satellite channel, especially the Egyptian ones, even though it is covert. The stoppage of al-Hiwar is the first step taken after the Arab Media Charter. Outside the Arab region, we will not find such extinct organizations, such as the Ministries of Information, that seriously control the TV channels. It is absolutely an Arab tragedy”.
HRInfo called all advocates of freedom of expression to face such attempts of the detective controllers done by those ministers and their governments, and to support the right of the audience to watch whatever they consider honest aiming at discussing the important issues.
It is worthy to mention that Al-Hiwar TV channel was established in London mid 2006 and is considered a leading channel in the Arab and European countries due to discussing serious and important issues that are considered to transcend the red lines, as recently claimed by the Arab Media Charter.