Asharq al-Awsat, an independent Saudi owned newspaper, wrote on April 4: “Amine Basyouni, the chief executive officer of Nilesat and head of the Arab media committee in the Arab League, confirmed in a phone call with Asharq al-Awsat that he has no knowledge of the decision to ban the Al-Hiwar television channel, which is based in London from broadcasting. He denied the reports about this decision coming as a result of implementing the Arab media document ratified by the Arab media ministers recently in their meeting in the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo. He added: “Many have not even read the document, which is now the prime suspect in all the issues pertaining to satellite channels.”
“Basyouni added: “Anyone who reads the sections of the document will realize that it has not been implemented yet and that it doesn’t possess a mechanism for implementing it. How can this document lead to banning the broadcasting of a television channel that has a binding contract with Nilesat that forces us to broadcast the channel over the specified frequencies?”. There were reports that this channel was banned because of its relations with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood group, but this was denied by Issam Al-Iryan, the official spokesman for the MB in Egypt, who confirmed that the channel has nothing to do with the MB. The Egyptian journalism syndicate and some legal and human rights organizations condemned the decision taken by Nilesat to stop the channel from broadcasting and considered that this decision is a harsh start of the implementation of the Arab media document and proof that Cairo is enthusiastic about implementing it.
“Dr Azzam Al-Tamimi, one of the founders of the channel in London, confirmed to Asharq al-Awsat that the decision to stop the channel from broadcasting went into effect on April 1 and that the channel was informed a few days after the ratification of the Arab media document that Nilesat wants to stop broadcasting it, by the company with which it deals in London. He added that no reason was given for this decision and that an agreement was reached with Nilesat about prolonging the deadline to the end of April but Nilesat did not commit to this agreement. He announced: “We are continuing to broadcast over other satellites and we are discussing the posiiblity of broadcasting over Arabsat. Our lawyers are also looking into the idea of starting legal proceedings against Nilesat”.
“While some news reports mentioned that Nilesat’s decision to stop the television channel from broadcasting came as a result of a request submitted by the Egyptian authorities, Al-Tamimi announced that the channel has never received any official complaint by any Arab country except for a few objections from Tunisia. Concerning the belief that the channel is the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood group, he announced: “We are the voice of the oppressed throughout the world”.” - Asharq al-Awsat, United Kingdom