Satellite ‘jamming’ affects Arabsat/Eutelsat

Chris Forrester

Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Hiwar has just suffered a bout of what they claim is deliberate jamming. A BBC Monitoring report, quoting newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi, says the channel’s transmissions to Arabsat and Eutelsat’s Atlantic Bird satellites had been affected.

On May 9, the statement said the Al-Hiwar satellite channel resumed transmission on Arabsat and Atlantic Bird satellites and said it was making strenuous efforts to overcome obstacles and resume transmission on the satellites. Transmission stopped at 1300 hours, May 7, after being jammed several times.

In a statement, the channel said: “The transmission of Al-Hiwar satellite channel was subjected to deliberate and repeated jamming starting last Sunday 3 May 2009 at 0500 GMT and it disrupted transmission for several hours daily. This constant jamming forced the management of the European satellite to stop the channel's transmission until the matter was dealt with.”

The channel attributed the jamming to the fact "that the Arab situation continues to be unable to put up with the distinguished media." The statement added: “Al-Hiwar channel began transmission three years ago, over which time it represented a valued addition to the Arab media scene committing itself to professionalism and impartiality in deepening the dialogue over Arab and international events and offering a unique media service to the Arab expatriate communities. Al-Hiwar tried to let the diversity of its programmes and the angles with which it dealt with the issues enrich the Arab scene locally and in the diaspora and also tried to highlight and support the Arab causes within the framework of what the strict British laws allow for the television channels. In its relationship with the Arab regimes, as much as Al-Hiwar tried to make room for the voices of the opposition and civil society it was also very keen to make room for the official viewpoints so as to achieve balance and impartiality.”

“While reiterating its commitment to impartiality and objectivity in its editorial policy, Al-Hiwar channel can only denounce this method of facing the truth and considers it a breach of the international charters organizing freedom of communications and a blatant attack on the freedom of the press.”