Arab League adopts strict rules for satellite TV stations

Arab League adopts strict rules for satellite TV stations

Reporters Without Borders condemns an agreement imposing
draconian regulations on satellite TV content that was adopted
yesterday in Cairo by the information ministers of 21 of the Arab
League’s 22 member states. It authorises governments to punish
offenders.


“These regulations are not only repressive but also retrograde,”
the press freedom organisation said. “Instead of working to relax the
often very rigid press laws in force in their countries, the Arab
League information ministers have banded together to put pressure on
news media that have been annoying them and escaping their control.

“Since
their emergence in the region, satellite TV stations have
revolutionised the news media in the Arab world. Unlike the national TV
stations that have to censor themselves, stations such as Al-Jazeera
and Al-Arabiya are forums for free speech in which the peoples of the
Arab world can hear their grievances expressed.”

Reporters
Without Borders added: “It is not surprising that this agreement was
promoted by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two countries in which the
satellite TV stations have encountered difficulties in recent years. We
call on the Arab League’s secretary-general, Amr Moussa, to intercede
with its member states and convince them to rescind it.”

Qatar,
where Al-Jazeera has its headquarters, was the only Arab League member
to vote against the agreement, which aims to “regulate the operations
of satellite TV stations.” It authorises signatory countries to
“withdraw, freeze or not renew the work permits of media which break
the regulations.” Using very vague language, it also stipulates that
the satellite TV stations “should not damage social harmony, national
unity, public order or traditional values.”

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