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A coup within Al Ghad channel topples administration and investors

Mideast Wire

On August 22, the Palestinian-owned Al Quds Al Arabi daily carried the following report by Bassam Al-Badareen: "No one in Jordan knows the reason behind the sudden disease which affected the first private television channel in the history of the country. The channel was supposed to start airing beginning August 1 before it entered in a state of coma and chaos… This channel was supposed to break the monopoly of the only channel known as the Jordanian Television.

"All of a sudden, the administration of the ATV channel gathered its exceptional media and technical staff yesterday and decided to extend the period of unemployment which they have been undergoing by giving them a 10-day paid vacation. This destroyed the remaining hopes of the staff after over a year of boredom which ended with the preparations to announce the birth of the first channel representing an investment opportunity for the private sector in the Kingdom.

"During the ten-day vacation of the staff which has grown tired of waiting, an audit will be conducted, one which was said to have started two days ago after the blood of the newly born channel was lost between the clans without specifying who hindered its broadcast even though it had started its test broadcasting. According to the information, an event occurred in the background and ended with a coup among the investors who disappeared or were asked to leave, and were replaced with a new set of investors which gained control over the institution that has not yet seen the light.

"This apparently necessitated financial procedures to secure the surrendering of the shares which witnessed accusations and counter accusations. The ATV or Al Ghad channel as it is called locally is no longer owned by the original investors and founders, and a new unknown class of investors has emerged in the context of a transformation process which no one in Jordan or outside of it understands. The preliminary auditing committees are now talking – as is being reiterated – about finding a sum of money amounting to no less than ten million dollars, that were considered as being an additional cost.

"What is important is that there is a major financial problem within an institution whose owners suddenly changed and whose real "father" remains unknown. The speculations on the journalistic scene sometimes talk about Kuwaiti funds and other times about a US-backed project or two types of funds supporting the project: the first being an investment fund and the second a political fund… It is now obvious there was a dispute between the partners regardless of their identities and that the project has been terminated or at the very least has come to require magic powers to save it.

"It is also obvious that hidden forces and for unknown reasons interfered and changed everything, starting with the captain, the second-rank officials and the audience. It is clear that the director general of the channel, young journalist Muhannad Al-Khatib, is now gone with the wind in light of rumors talking about his dismissal in the context of the storm which suddenly blew the project away.

"The majority of the speculations indicate that Al-Khatib will no longer be the director general and will become an advisor, knowing that a committee representing the new investors is running the project and is turning the media into a forest of silence and anticipation vis-a-vis what was always described as being the most important investment opportunity at the level of the media on the Jordanian scene… Some circles within the state were naturally uneager to see the project come to life because they feared it would topple the only governmental TV channel which has been witnessing a state of depravation according to observers.

"The station's administration that was toppled in an unclear coup said weeks ago that the relevant governmental body was responsible for the delay… Those concerned by the project feel that the government did not want to see the birth of the private channel to begin with during the municipal elections which was why the project was temporarily hindered without being fully stopped… Al Ghad television project is undergoing a real crisis and experts are saying that the main goal behind the project was terminated.

"They believed that the coup that toppled the investors will change its characteristics and rhetoric and undermine all hopes in seeing independent media projects in the Jordanian reality…"

Source: Al Quds Al Arabi, United Kingdom



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