Libya ends support for TV rules bill

Charter aims to control practices of satcasters

DUBAI — Libya has withdrawn its support for an Arab League charter that sought to control the practices of Arab TV channels and has asked other Arab information ministers to follow its lead in nixing the bill.

The charter, dubbed “Principles for Regulating Satellite TV in the Arab World,” had been near-universally adopted following a Feb. 12 meeting of information ministers from the Arab League in Cairo.

The nonbinding charter called on Arab satcasters to refrain from offending, among other things, “leaders or national religious symbols in the Arab Word” as well as “from broadcasting anything which calls into question God, the monotheistic religions, the prophets, sects or symbols of the various religious communities.”

Other no-no’s included content that was erotic or obscene, or encourages smoking or the consumption of alcohol.

The bill already had proven hugely unpopular among Arab TV execs, who saw it as a means for Arab governments to exercise their influence over the mushrooming Arab TV biz.

Qatar, where newscaster Al-Jazeera is based, already had refused to sign the charter; Al-Jazeera execs blasted the attempted curbs as a risk to freedom of expression in the Arab world.

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