Al-Alam spat heats up


Arabic-language channel al-Alam was taken off air last week by Arabsat and Nilesat. Now Iran’s media authority says Arabsat has broken a binding contract in removing the channel.

Al-Alam was taken off the air because it had allegedly hosted coverage by “several opposition figures” who had “mounted accusations and lies” against several Gulf leaders. Additionally, the channel is seen by some as a negative influence in the often-sensitive relations between Sunni and Shi-ite religious factions. Also the current border skirmishes between Saudi Arabia and Yemen might be a factor.

IRIB, Iran’s national broadcasting corporation, says it has a contract between its own IRIB Warehouse & Procurement department and Arabsat dated Jan 31 2002, which does not permit Arabsat to “unilaterally and intentionally” remove the channel.

A report from Press TV, a Tehran broadcaster, and quoted by the BBC’s Monitoring division, says IRIB has formally written to Arabsat complaining about this contract breach, adding “As a matter of fact, the broadcasting of perfect, honest and neutral reports and programmes" is a goal that is pursued by Al-Alam network, the letter read.

IRIB says it has proposed face-to-face meetings with Arabsat to resolve any “misunderstandings”, and to speed the resumption of normal service for the channel.