New Arab channel halts broadcasting

Published: Monday 2nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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A new pan-Arab news channel backed by a billionaire Saudi prince was suspended from broadcasting from its home in Bahrain.

The Alarab television station shut down just hours after it went on air and carried an interview with a prominent opposition activist.

The station said on its official Twitter feed that coverage was halted for “technical and administrative reasons”, and that it hopes to be back on the air soon. It went live on Sunday afternoon.

The unexpected stoppage, apparently on the order of Bahraini authorities, came just hours after Alarab surprised many viewers by featuring Bahraini opposition activist Khalil al-Marzooq as one of its first guests.

Yusuf Mohammed, the media director at Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority, cited similar reasons as the channel for its being “temporarily suspended” in comments to the official Bahrain News Agency. He did not give further details.

He said the authorities are working with Alarab management “to swiftly resolve the matter”, and he expected the channel will resume broadcasting soon.

A brief front-page article in the pro-government Akhbar al-Khaleej newspaper said the channel’s broadcasts had been suspended because they did not conform to Gulf norms. It did not cite its sources.

Viewers tuning into the channel on Monday morning were only able to see pre-packaged promotions for the network, not news programming.

Mr Al-Marzooq is a former deputy parliament speaker who is a senior member of al-Wefaq, the country’s main Shiite political bloc.

He was cleared of allegations of instigating violence and having links to a protest faction that authorities blame for bombings and other attacks in a closely watched case last year.

He was asked on to discuss Bahrain’s decision to revoke the citizenship of 72 people. The list included Turki al-Binali, a 30-year-old who is one of the Islamic State group’s leading ideologues. It also included several Shiite activists living in exile.

Published: Monday 2nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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