Arabic TV channel faces Ofcom sanctions
By Chris Forrester

Al Mustakillah is a UK-licensed Arabic-language satellite channel beaming its signals to North Africa and the Middle East. UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom says it is considering applying statutory sanctions on the broadcaster for what it states are “particularly serious” breaches of its broadcasting codes.

The channel does not broadcast to the UK, and is not available as any UK broadcasting platform. The breaches occurred last October during the build up to Tunisia’s general election. Specifically the offences occurred during ‘phone in’ programmes covering the elections with Ofcom taking the view that the programmes were not impartial or balanced. One of the problems that the owner, and license-holder of the channel was himself a political candidate for election, and a frequent guest on the channel.

Al Mustakillah TV responded by saying that invitations were extended to representatives from the various political parties but some declined and that the channel welcomed plurality of views and that there was input from callers of all political persuasions. Moreover, the channel relied on its rights to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights. Further, there had been no complaints from any of the Tunisian political parties about the views expressed on the channel.