woensdag 13 februari 2008

Arabische staten beperken satelietzenders

Een stap achteruit wat betreft de toch al beperkte vrijheid van meningsuiting in Arabische landen. De oprichter van de Engelstalige Al Jazeera zei onlangs in een interview dat er één land is in het Midden-Oosten waar men nooit problemen heeft ondervonden: Israël...

Arab countries seek broadcast curbs

Several Arab countries have adopted a draft document which imposes "regulations" and restrictions on Arab satellite television broadcasters and bars offending their governments.

In Cairo on Tuesday information ministers of the 22-member Arab League all voted in favour of the document, with only Qatar and Lebanon opposing.

The meeting was called at the request of Egypt, which hosts the Arab League and serves as a base for several Arab satellite channels.

Anas al-Fiqi, the Egyptian information minister, said his country would be the "first to implement the Cairo document".

"Some satellite channels have strayed from the correct path," he said.

One of the points in the document requires that stations "not to offend the leaders or national and religious symbols" of Arab countries.

Al Jazeera factor

Cairo and Riyadh frequently complain of criticism of their governments in talk shows aired by Al Jazeera and other satellite channels.

The Cairo document authorises signatory countries to "withdraw, freeze or not renew the work permits of media which break the regulations".

It stipulates that satellite channels "should not damage social harmony, national unity, public order or traditional values".

It says that programming should also "conform with the religious and ethical values of Arab society and take account of its family structure".

Religious matters

Channels should "refrain from broadcasting anything which calls into question God, the monotheistic religions, the prophets, sects or symbols of the various religious communities".

The document also says that broadcasters should avoid "erotic or obscene material" or programmes that "encourage smoking or the consumption of alcohol", the latter prohibited by Islam.

They should also "protect Arab identity from the harmful effects of globalisation".

Qatar said it was "still studying the document" and that it did not "currently want to adopt" it for legal rather than political reasons.

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