Al-Hiwar satellite TV off-air after ‘deliberate jamming’ - paper
May 8th, 2009 - 13:33 UTC by Andy Sennitt

Text of report by London-based independent newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi website on 8 May

[Unattributed report: "'Repeated Satellite Jamming Causes Stoppage of 'Al-Hiwar' Channel's Transmission"]

A source in Al-Hiwar satellite channel has stated that a “repeated and deliberate jamming” made the Hotbird satellite stop the transmission of the London-based channel. The source said in exclusive statements to “Al-Quds al-Arabi” that the channel was discussing the possibility of resorting to alternatives to resume transmission as quickly as possible. The channel’s transmission stopped suddenly yesterday afternoon [7 May] while broadcasting the “Special Coverage” programme which was presenting a lecture entitled “Democratic change and scenarios of change in Egypt” which colleague Khalid al-Shami recently delivered at the Arab Cultural Centre in London.

The source added that the jamming started for the first time last Sunday during the broadcast of the “With Clarity” programme which interviewed Jum’ah al-Qumati, the Libyan oppositionist living in London. The jamming was repeated during the announcement of the forthcoming programme and happened again during the broadcast of the “Special Coverage” programme which prompted the intermediary company in charge of transmitting the channel to suspend transmission lest the jamming would affect the other channels on the satellite. The suspension of transmission on the European satellite automatically led to its suspension on the Arabsat and Atlantic Bird ones and also on the Internet.

The source refrained from accusing a specific party but did not rule out the possibility that it could be Libya, Egypt, or some other party and pointed out that this was not the first time that satellite channels were jammed, including an Iraqi one called Al-Zawra when it was broadcasting from Egypt and it accused the Egyptian Government of jamming it and also a Syrian channel which accused Libya of jamming it.

The source did not rule out the possibility that this jamming was linked to Libya’s decision to nationalize the Al-Libiyah [satellite TV] channel and stop the “Pencil” programme presented by media colleague Hamdi Qandil. It said “it seems that this month will see important events in some Arab countries and some do not want Al-Hiwar channel to deal with them.”

Al-Hiwar started broadcasting before three years and was removed suddenly from Nilesat satellite, which is owned by an Egyptian Government company, on 1st April 2008. The company did not explain its decision but the channel continued to be seen in Egypt on the Atlantic Bird satellite which covers the same area.

The channel was announcing a forthcoming interview with Ashraf al-Sa’id, a London-based Egyptian businessman, and the programme was due to be aired last night within the “Egyptian Papers” programme which recently presented interviews with prominent Egyptian oppositionists, among them Dr Sa’d-al-Din Ibrahim. Some of Al-Hiwar channel’s programmes can be seen on the website www.youtube.com/al-hiwarchannel.