Media crackdown escalates with 4 sat TV channels closed, 2 given notice

The government tightened the noose on independent media this week, with the General Investment Authority (GIA) temporarily closing down the Al-Nas, Al-Khaleejia, Al-Hafez and Al-Seha wal Gamal satellite television channels–effective as of Thursday–for allegedly violating their licensing agreements.

Heads of the four channels complained that they had not been notified of the move beforehand, noting that they planned to refer the issue to the Investor Protection Authority.

The GIA has also reportedly notified the ON TV and Al-Faraeen satellite channels that they, too, would be closed for the same reason.

GIA officials said that the channels in question should abide by the media's "code of honor" by refraining from inciting "sectarian hatred" in their respective broadcasts.

According to one GIA official, viewers had complained to Al-Azhar about the channels' content, referring in particular to unauthorized Muslim preachers who were issuing "irresponsible" religious edicts.

The official also said that the Health Ministry had received complaints about the channels' tendency to advertise unregistered drugs and medicine.

ON TV Director Albert Shafiq, for his part, said the GIA had instructed the channel to halt its news ticker "without providing a valid reason to do so."

“We will look into the legality of this notice,” said Shafiq.

Translated from the Arabic Edition. 

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