LEBANON / Arabsat ordered to continue broadcasting the Hezbollah channel

In early December a Lebanese court ordered the satellite operator Arabsat, based in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), to resume transmitting Al Manar TV, which it had cut off in December 2015.

Ibrahim Farhat, Directeur Général de la chaîne Al Manar TV

Ibrahim Farhat, General Manager of Al Manar TV

In an action brought by Al Manar’s management, Hassan Hamdane, the Lebanese judge for urgent affairs, ruled that Arabsat must reopen Al Manar‘s signal on their bouquet “as soon as possible.

Last year Arabsat accused Al Manar, a private channel whose majority shareholder is the Lebanese Shiite political movement Hezbollah, of violating the terms of their contract “by transmitting biased content and by favouring Hezbollah.” Tension between Saudi Arabia and countries favouring Shiite Islam had led Arabsat to censor another Lebanese channel, Al Mayadeen, and later to relocate its own broadcasting centre from Lebanon to Jordan.

This last point raises doubts about the value of the judgment given by Hassan Hamdane. Commentators quoted by the Lebanese media believe that the sanction is unlikely to be respected since Arabsat is no longer based in the country, and Lebanese courts have no jurisdiction in Saudi Arabia or Jordan. Moreover, according to the same commentators, it is “unlikely” that the contract between Arabsat and Al Manar is governed by Lebanese law.

The Egyptian operator Nilesat  has also cut Al Manar’s signal, so the channel currently broadcasts on-line and via satellite through Russian and Indonesian operators.

Sources: Spacewatch Middle East, L’Orient Le Jour, Advanced Television, Naharnet


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