Arab states slap ‘regulations’ on satellite channels


Over the opposition solely of Qatar, the home of Al-Jazeera, information ministers of the 22-member Arab League voted in favour of the document.

The meeting was called at the request of Egypt, which hosts the Arab League and serves as base for several Arab satellite channels.

It calls for the stations "not to offend the leaders or national and religious symbols" of Arab countries.

Cairo and Riyadh frequently complain of criticism of their regimes in talk shows aired by Al-Jazeera and other satellite channels.

The Cairo document authorises signatory countries to "withdraw, freeze or not renew the work permits of media which break the regulations".

It stipulates that satellite channels "should not damage social harmony, national unity, public order or traditional values."

Programming should also "conform with the religious and ethical values of Arab society and take account of its family structure."

Channels should "refrain from broadcasting anything which calls into question God, the monotheistic religions, the prophets, sects or symbols of the various religious communities."

Broadcasters should avoid "erotic or obscene material" or programmes that "encourage smoking or the consumption of alcohol," the latter prohibited by Islam.

They should also "protect Arab identity from the harmful effects of globalisation."

Egyptian Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi told a news conference that his country would be the "first to implement the Cairo document".

"Some satellite channels have strayed from the correct path," he charged.

Qatar said it was "still studying the document" but added that it did not not "currently want to adopt" it for legal rather than political reasons.


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