The Lebanese government has blocked the international service of Beirut-based satellite channel New-TV. The Ministry of Telecommunications cut the connection after broadcasters ignored orders to cancel a weekly program on Saudi Arabia. The measure will stay in effect until the cabinet next meets on January 9.
Lebanese viewers will have access to the banned episode of Without a Censor, a weekly program that does critical analyses of political and economic developments in the Middle East. This week’s edition focuses on Saudi-American relations, US bases in the Kingdom and the country's political situation.
The program on Saudi Arabia has potential to stir up sensitivities within the Lebanese administration, as the Kingdom is a major financial supporter of the state. Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has Saudi citizenship and has earned a large portion of his fortune in the country.
Another private satellite channel facing a similar problem is Qatar’s Al-Jazeera. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has issued a call for the boycott of the Doha-based TV station. Saudi officials have often voiced their discontent over what they describe as Al-Jazeera’s “deliberate and programmed assaults against the Kingdom and its leaders.”
The channel has reportedly lost many of its commercial advertisers to pressure exerted by the GCC member states. With over 35 million viewers throughout the world, Al-Jazeera is also the most popular satellite TV channel in Saudi Arabia.
New-TV was established in 2001 as the voice for the Lebanese leftist party. As its popularity grew, the station was transformed to a private company. The channel airs television series, documentaries, children’s programs, news and political programs. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )