Arab broadcast charter

March 3, 2008 in main by Emma

Reuters

DUBAI, March 3 (Reuters) – Outspoken Arab broadcasters said they would not cave in to a charter designed to force them to self-censor their programmes or risk going off air.

The satellite broadcasting charter, endorsed at a meeting of Arab information ministers in Cairo last month, will entrench state control over broadcasts and curtail political expression on the airwaves in a region of some 300 million.

Analysts said the obvious targets of the document, led by U.S. allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel and Lebanon’s al-Manar TV owned by the Shi’ite Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group.

Al Jazeera are of course the channel renowned for broadcasting al Qaeda videos.

I found this interesting. Some are praising it, some are not. Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) are condemning it as a restriction of free speech. (http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/26/mena18153.htm)

Personally I think I’d like to see what it says before making a judgement. It could be a good thing, especially where Al Jazeera are concerned. It might be a restriction of freedom of speech, which of course is to be avoided.

I also find this quote from HRW interesting:

The document, intended as guidelines that carry no legal obligations, recommends that the regulatory bodies of Arab League members states confiscate equipment, impose fines, and suspend, refuse to renew or withdraw licenses from satellite channels that authorities deem to have violated those “principles.”

So they’re just guidelines, not obligations, but there are to be sanctions imposed. I wonder how far this will go?

What are your thoughts, anyone?