New Middle East satellite TV channel unveiled in Lebanon
Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 12-06-2012
Al Mayadeen, a new Beirut-based satellite television station for pan-Arab audiences, was launched yesterday (11 June) in an attempt to take on the region's established news channels Al Jazeera and MBC's Al Arabiya.
The new channel, meaning 'The Squares' in translation, is headed by Tunisian journalist Ghasan bin Jiddo, who left his role at Al Jazeera in 2011 over what he considered the Qatar network's bias against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
Al Mayadeen promises to support the Palestinian cause and all forms of "resistance", with a commitment to professional and balanced journalism - according to Lebanon's The Daily Star.
"We are not a channel that speaks in the name of Iran or the Syrian regime. We are a completely independent channel which reflects reality as it is," bin Jiddo is quoted by as saying by the newspaper.
"We will fight sectarianism and stand against colonialism and foreign intervention. ... The station's compass will always be turned to Palestine and the resistance," he added.
There is much speculation as to who is funding the channel, with accusations that Hezbollah and Iran are behind the launch. However bin Jiddo has denied this, claiming Al Mayadeen is financed instead by unnamed Arab businessmen.
The channel is reportedly employing around 300 staff, and will include contributors from around the world, including outspoken British politician George Galloway, who will host a weekly show.
In addition to Al Jazeera and the Saudi-backed Al Arabiya, Al Mayadeen faces competition from the recently launched Sky News Arabia - a free to air Arabic news channel based in Abu Dhabi - as well as a host of foreign news broadcasters such as the BBC, Russia Today, and France 24 which all provide an Arabic service.