Criticized Alhurra head resigns

Broadcaster aired anti-American statements

WASHINGTON — The editorial director of Alhurra Television resigned Friday amid criticism of the U.S.-funded broadcaster for airing unchallenged anti-American and anti-Israeli statements, some of which were made by people or groups the Bush administration has designated as terrorists.

Larry Register submitted his resignation to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, under whose purview Alhurra falls. In his letter to BBG member Joaquin Blaya, Register said he had been unfairly targeted but felt the criticisms were starting to affect the Arabic-language TV station’s ability to carry out its mission of countering extremist views of the U.S. among Middle East auds.

“For reasons I still don’t understand, I have been professionally and personally attacked,” Register wrote. “When this began a few months ago I told you I would fight these smear campaigns as long as Alhurra and the vital mission we are trying to accomplish didn’t suffer. Regretfully, I have come to the conclusion that these attacks, especially those in the Wall Street Journal (which I believe to be unwarranted, unfair and based on falsehoods) are placing Alhurra and its editorial independence in jeopardy.”

In addition to vitriolic statements that aired without an opposing opinion or analysis, Alhurra covered the extensive conference Iran hosted questioning the validity of the Holocaust. Most commercial media had deemed it not newsworthy.

Defenders of Alhurra said that for the broadcaster to gain credibility with Middle Eastern auds, it needs to air controversial material that the U.S. government may not like or accept.

Register was also criticized for not being an Arabic speaker — a requirement, some said, for leading an Arabic-language broadcaster.

In his statement accepting Register’s resignation, Blaya said, “Effective immediately, Daniel Nassif will assume Larry Register’s duties as the editorial leader of Alhurra. Daniel, a native Arabic speaker, has served with distinction over the last five years as managing director/news director for Radio Sawa.”

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