Bahrain to quit Arabsat in protest at Iran channels

AFP , Saturday 26 May 2012

Island kingdom to stop broadcasting 'Bahrain bouquet' on Arabsat in protest at what it says is an Iran-led hostile media campaign against it and Saudi Arabia

A pro-government protester holds up a placard as he participates in a rally to show support towards GCC Union, in al Fateh Grand Mosque in Manama . (Photo: Reuters )

Bahrain will stop broadcasting its channels on satellite operator Arabsat to protest an Iran-led "hostile" media campaign, the state news agency BNA reported on Saturday.

"The Information Affairs Authority (IAA) decided to stop broadcasting Bahrain bouquet on Arabsat, starting from 1 June," BNA said quoting an English language statement.

IAA criticised Arabsat for failing to heed repeated requests "to take an official measure" against Iranian channels which also broadcast on Arabsat.

These channels, it said, were waging a "hostile media campaign" against Bahrain and Saudi Arabia "to incite sectarianism and shake security and stability," in the Sunni-ruled kingdoms.

The IAA said it had "repeatedly requested" Arabsat to take measures against Iranian channels since February 2011, when a month-long Shiite-led uprising began in Bahrain against the regime.

"The executive body of Arabsat did not respond to these requests," said the statement.

In 2009, Saudi-based Arabsat and another Arab satellite operator, Nilesat, briefly stopped broadcasting Arabic-language Iranian channel Al-Alam.

Tensions have escalated between Shiite Iran and its Arab neighbours in the Gulf since a Saudi-led Gulf force rolled into Bahrain in March 2011 to boost the kingdom's security forces, which then crushed a month-old uprising against the regime.

Iran has repeatedly voiced support for the protests in Bahrain and strongly condemned the deployment of the Saudi-led forces.

Al-Alam and Lebanon's Hezbollah's Al-Manar channel have provided full coverage of the protests dominated by their Shiite co-religionists.

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