London, Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Middle East Satellite providers Nilesat and Arabsat have both stopped carrying the Iranian Al-Alam news channel the night before yesterday without giving reasons. Atif al-Musawi, manager of the channel’s Beirut office told Asharq Al-Awsat that the stoppage of the broadcasts on both satellites started the day before yesterday at 15 hours Beirut time without prior notification. He added that the Arabsat management informed the channel’s management in Tehran that the broadcast was stopped “for political reasons” and pointed out that Al-Alam channel would continue its broadcasts to all parts of the world on seven other satellites.
However, Engineer Khalid Balkhayur, the executive director of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization Arabsat, denied in a telephone contact with Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday that political or other matters were the reasons for stopping the Iranian Al-Alam channel’s broadcast on Arabsat. He asserted that the broadcast was stopped for “contractual reasons” and pointed out that negotiations were continuing between the two sides and “these problems can be resolved in light of this.”
In reply to an Asharq al-Awsat question whether the decision to stop the broadcast was agreed at the meeting of information ministers and officials of five Arab countries that have satellite companies which was held the day before yesterday in Riyadh at the invitation of Saudi Information and Culture Minister Abdulaziz Khoja, the Arabsat’s executive director denied that such a decision was taken at the meeting and also denied that there was coordination between the Arabsat and Nilesat managements to stop Al-Alam’s broadcasts. He said: “I cannot talk about any reasons other than the disagreement between us and the channel over contractual matters.