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Dropping of television channel disproves authorities' claim that media would not suffer under Arab region's satellite broadcasting charter, says HRinfo

(HRinfo/IFEX) - HRinfo condemns the banning of the Al Hiwar channel on the Nile Sat satellite by the state-owned Nile Sat administration. The channel was banned without any explanation on 1 April 2008. The action coincides with the implementation of the new "Principles for Organizing Satellite Radio and TV Broadcasting in the Arab Region" approved by Arab information ministers in February.

Banning the Al Hiwar channel contradicts all professional and free expression values. It also reveals the wrathful attitude of the Egyptian government towards trustworthy and serious media outlets that aim to provide Arab audiences news of all kinds.

This decision reveals the falsity of assertions made by Arab information ministers who said that the new document on broadcasting principles would not harm serious information channels. The Al Hiwar channel commenced broadcasting in mid-2006, and was known for its serious and objective handling of public issues.

"We knew about the wrathful censorship, even hidden, of some satellite channels, especially Egyptian ones", said Gamal Eid, the executive director of HRinfo. "Banning the Al Hiwar channel is a cruel inauguration of the Arab information ministers' document. Only in the Arab world can minor authorities such as information ministers control the fate of television channels. It is an Arab scandal," added Eid.

HRinfo urges all free expression defenders to stand against this police-like censorship exercised by ministers and their governments, and to advocate for the right of the viewers to watch serious coverage of public issues by independent media.

Updates alert on Al Hiwar's cancellation: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92260/

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