Bahrain opposition group plans satellite TV station
January 7th, 2012 - 14:52 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

An opposition group in Bahrain has announced plans to set up a satellite television channel and a newspaper. The Information Affairs Authority (IAA) was unable to comment on the case, but sources confirmed authorities were reviewing an official application from Al Wefaq National Islamic Society. It is seeking to publish a daily Arabic newspaper and set up an Arabic TV channel as part of efforts to ensure its message gets out.

“Al Wefaq decided to launch its daily newspaper and TV channel as it feels there should be room for opposition groups to air their views,” said former Al Wefaq MP Jawad Fairooz. He said the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report called for greater freedom of speech and expression especially in the media. It also called for Bahrain to relax its censorship laws and allow the opposition greater access to television and radio broadcasts as well as the print media.

“Our website which was earlier blocked by the authorities is now up and running,” said Mr Fairooz. “We want to highlight our views and opinions using these media channels.”

Mr Fairooz said all groups and people could benefit from the daily newspaper and TV channel by highlighting their concerns. “We have the experience as our weekly newsletter is well received by citizens,” he said. “Our team of writers and experts can come out with a decent daily newspaper.”

On the question of overseas funding, Mr Fairooz said if the required licences are granted by the IAA, Al Wefaq would initially use its own resources. “We are open and transparent,” he said. “Our auditors check all the financial accounts and if we get the licence we will manage from our resources. But in the future, we are open for potential investors and advertising revenues to improve our services.”

IAA Press and Publication acting director Yussef Mohammed Ismail said earlier this week that Bahrain aims to protect freedom of expression and boost the country’s media without encroaching on the rights of citizens.

IAA Press and Publication acting director Yussef Mohammed Ismail said earlier this week that Bahrain aims to protect freedom of expression and boost the country’s media without encroaching on the rights of citizens. He said authority president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa had set up a specialised legal panel charged with compiling and upgrading laws and legislation pertaining to the media field.