From www.kimandrewelliott.com

Arab commentator: Alhurra and Radio Sawa more "constructive" than "Terror TV" legislation.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010

"A recent bill passed [sic] by the US Congress imposes sanctions on Middle East satellite companies that are broadcasting channels deemed hostile to the United States. Last week Arab information ministers deliberated about setting up a joint media commission. Neither development has offered any comfort to the region’s non-state media. The very idea of the US Congress defining how media in other countries ought to behave is confusing simply because it defeats the principle of the free flow of information that the US champions. Just think of the recent US reaction to China’s harassment of Google and you realise how central media freedom is in the US policy agenda. ... It is perplexing to see this type of move, which was never raised by the more conservative Congress during the former Bush administration. In fact, that administration was wise enough to shape this region’s public opinion not by closing down hostile media outlets, but by launching credible broadcast operations like Alhurra Television Channel and Radio Sawa. It is through such constructive engagement in the region’s public sphere, rather than through sanctions and suppression, that the goals of US diplomacy would be better served." Muhammad Ayish, The National (Abu Dhabi), 3 February 2010. Refers to H.R. 2278, adopted by the House, but yet to be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. See previous post.
     "The Iraqi government is urging fellow Arab countries to help it crack down on television channels watched across the Arab world that it believes incite violence and sectarianism, an official said. Ali al-Musawi, manager of Iraq's National Media Center, complained that channels based in Arab nations like Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt had broadcast programs instructing viewers on how to assemble bombs or otherwise stirring up violence. He did not name any channels or provide more details." Reuters, 28 January 2010.
     "Once the U.S. gets into the business of imposing sanctions against television stations deemed hostile, it's a very slippery slope. The definition of anti-American incitement is impossibly broad. ... In short, H.R. 2278 is a deeply irresponsible bill which sharply contradicts American support for media freedom and could not be implemented in the Middle East today as crafted without causing great damage. Even Arab governments who despise Hamas and Hezbollah and Qaradawi and al-Jazeera could not sign on to it. Instead, such governments proposed a pan-Arab Media Commission which would monitor and regulate political content on satellite TV -- an idea which was floated in spring 2008, and mercifully failed." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 25 January 2010.

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