Jordan alleged source of Al Jazeera World Cup broadcast disruptions

Rebecca Hawkes | 01-10-2010

The source of the disruption to Al Jazeera Sport’s World Cup satellite broadcasts has been traced to Jordan, according to a report in UK newspaper The Guardian.

The UK newspaper said: “Secret documents seen exclusively by The Guardian trace five episodes of jamming definitively to a location near Salt in Jordan, northwest of the capital Amman, confirmed by technical teams using geolocation technology.”

The Guardian goes on to allege it would have been unlikely for the Jordanian authorities to be unaware of the signal jamming, given the level of technical sophistication required.

Football fans who subscribed to Al Jazeera Sport were livid when transmission failed and screens froze across the Arab world during the opening match between Mexico and South Africa. Seven other matches in the tournament also suffered picture drop-out and pixilation, and commentary problems. The disruption was labelled “an act of piracy” by Al Jazeera Sport at the time.

The Qatar-based broadcaster had exclusive pay-TV rights to broadcast football matches from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa to audiences across the Middle East and North Africa via Nilesat and Arabsat.

The Guardian now claims a deal between Al Jazeera Sports and Jordanian officials collapsed on the eve of the World Cup.

Following the transmission problems in June , football’s governing body Fifa said it was “appalled by any actions to try to stop Al Jazeera’s authorised transmissions of the Fifa World Cup as such actions deprive football fans from enjoying the world game in the region.”

Al Jazeera Sport and the Jordanian authorities are yet to comment on The Guardian’s allegations.