U.S. bill targets Arab TV channels

Resolution aims to brand nets as terrorist orgs

DUBAI — A draft resolution presented to the U.S. Congress to classify a number of Arab TV channels and the two main Arab satellite platforms as terrorist organizations has been greeted with silent bemusement by execs in the Arab TV biz.

Draft resolution 1308, entitled “Condemning the broadcasting of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States in media based in the Middle East,” calls on the U.S. president to label as a “specially designated global terrorist” Al-Aqsa TV, owned by Palestinian militant group Hamas, as well as both satellite providers ArabSat- operated the Arab League- and NileSat- operated by the Egyptian government.

The draft resolution, introduced by Republican representative Gus Bilarikis on June 26, also cites Lebanese satcaster Al-Manar, which is owned by Hizbollah; Iraqi channel Al-Zawraa, owned by disgraced former Iraqi politico Mishan Jabouri; Egyptian satcaster Al-Rafidayn, affiliated with Islamist group the Assn. of Muslim Scholars; and Iranian state-owned Arabic-language channel Al-Alam as proponents of incitement against the U.S.

While Al-Aqsa topper Fathi Hamad has been vocal in the local press decrying the draft bill, many of his counterparts are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

Hussein Rahal, chief spokesman for Hizbollah, offered no official comment when contacted by Variety, while execs at both ArabSat and NileSat were also unwilling to go on the record.

Egyptian authorities had already pulled the controversial Al-Zawraa, which aired footage of insurgent attacks against U.S. and Iraqi troops, from the NileSat platform in February 2007. The Iraqi government ended the station’s operations in the country in November 2006.

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