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Al-Manar
Al-Manar logo
Type Satellite television network
Country  Lebanon
Availability Middle East, Europe, Webcast
Motto Station of the resistance (qanat al-muqawama)
Slogan "A Flame that will not be Extinguished"
Owner Lebanese Communication Group
Key people Nayef Krayem, director
Launch date June 3, 1991
Official Website Arabic, French, Spanish, and English

Al-Manar (Arabic: المنار‎; The Beacon) is the satellite television station of Hezbollah, broadcasting from Beirut, Lebanon and offering a "rich menu" of high production news, commentary, and entertainment in the service of what Hezbollah believes is Islamic unity and resistance movement.[1] The self-proclaimed "Station of the Resistance" (qanat al-muqawama), is a key player in what Hezbollah calls its "psychological warfare against the Zionist enemy," i.e. the state of Israel,[2][3] and an integral part of Hezbollah's plan to spread its message to the Arab world.[3][4] ,[3] Currently, programming is geared towards coverage of the Palestinian cause, and the US coalition's occupation of Iraq, encouraging armed resistance against the US[citation needed] and elimination of "the Zionist entity" (i.e. Israel).

The station was launched by Hezbollah in 1991[5] with the help of Iranian funds,[3] by 2004, Al Manar was estimated to hold 10-15 million viewers daily worldwide.[4][5] Critics argue al-Manar's agenda is strongly influenced by Iran by virtue of the "significant portion" of Hizbollah's budget shortfall that is covered by Iran, via some of the "$100 and $200 million a year" Iran provides to Hezbollah itself.[3] Al-Manar officials strongly deny this, saying they are subsidized by the Hezbollah party and donations from other Muslims, not by Iran.[3]

Al-Manar was designated as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity", and banned by the United States in December 2004.[6] It has also been banned by France, Spain and Germany,[7][8][9] and has run into some service and license problems abroad[10], making it unavailable in the Netherlands,[11][12] South America,[8] Canada[13] and Australia[14][15] while it has not officially been banned in any of these regions.

Contents

History

Hezbollah
Flag of Hezbollah

Articles

Al-Manar is a Lebanese-based TV station, which first began terrestrial broadcasting from Beirut, Lebanon on June 3, 1991. By 2000, the station began broadcasting via satellite at a cost was a couple of million dollars.[16] The station was located in the Shi'a-controlled neighborhood Harat Hurayk in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where the Hezbollah is also headquartered.[16] Originally, the station employed only a few men that had studied media in London during the mid-1980s. But almost a year later, Al-Manar was employing over 150 people.[16]

Initially, al-Manar would broadcast only five hours per day. Shortly before the 1992 election, it began broadcasting regular news bulletins in order to help Hezbollah attain more votes and spread its message to more people. In 1993, the station expanded its broadcasting to seven hours a day and extended its signal to the southern part of the Bekaa Valley. Ahead of the 1996 Lebanese parliamentary elections, additional antennas were erected in northern Lebanon and throughout the Mount Lebanon range, so that the station could be viewed not only in Lebanon, but also in western Syria and northern Israel. Broadcasting was extended to 20 hours in 1998 and to 18 hours in 2000.[17]

In 1996, the Lebanese government granted broadcasting licenses to only five television stations, not including Al-Manar. Approximately 50 stations were forced to close at the time. Several stations appealed the government's decision, but only four of them were finally granted licenses, one of which was Al-Manar. On September 18, the Lebanese Cabinet decided to grant Al-Manar a license after having been requested to do so by the Syrian president Hafiz al-Asad. Al-Manar received the license in July 1997.[18]

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Satellite broadcasting

During the 1990s, the popularity of satellite broadcasting greatly increased in the Arab world and in Lebanon. The first Lebanese station to use this technology was Future Television, launching Future International SAT in 1994, while LBCI and the Lebanese government followed by launching LBCSAT and Tele-Liban Satellite respectively. In order to compete with these emerging stations, and in order to find an international audience, Al-Manar announced its intention to launch a satellite channel on March 9, 2000. Muhammad Ra'd, a Hezbollah member of parliament and al-Manar's largest shareholder, submitted the request to the minister of transmission, which was approved in April 2000. Although the launch of the satellite station was originally planned for July, the date was moved up in order to coincide with the end of the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon on May 25. This success led other television stations to follow in launching satellite stations, including Murr TV in November 2000, but it was shut down for "violating an election law prohibiting propaganda" — a fate which al-Manar did not meet, although its programming was also considered propaganda by many analysts[citation needed]. ArabSat, a leading communications satellite operator in the Middle East, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was at first wary about collaborating with al-Manar, because of the station's Shi'a agenda[citation needed] — the two companies agreed, however, that the programming would be adapted to the pan-Arab audience, leading to a slight difference between the local broadcast and the one via satellite. At first, only three hours of satellite programming were broadcast per day, but by December 2000, the station was broadcasting around the clock.[19]

Al-Manar was soon carried by many satellite providers. However, starting with the removal of the station from TARBS World TV in Australia in 2003, many satellite television providers stopped featuring it. Until then the station was featured by the following providers at one time or another:

According to the BBC[20] on July 26, 2006, Al-Manar had three satellite signals:

  • ArabSat 2B at 30.5 degrees east
  • Badr 3 at 26 degrees east
  • NileSat 102 at 7 degrees west

Al-Manar during 2006 Lebanon War

Israeli Air Force strike

The Israeli Air Force bombed Al-Manar buildings on Thursday, July 13, 2006 during the 2006 Lebanon War. The attack on Al-Manar's facilities shortly followed another strike against the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut earlier that morning. Despite the attack, the station remained on air, broadcasting from undisclosed locations.

The IDF bombed Al-Manar's Beirut complex again on July 16 causing fire in the complex and surrounding buildings. The station's signal disappeared briefly several times, then continued normal programming.[21]

Criticism of bombing

The bombing of media outlets violates international law when they are not being used for military purposes ("it is unlawful to attack facilities that merely shape civilian opinion; neither directly contributes to military operations"),[22] according to Human Rights Watch.

This incident has been condemned by the International Federation of Journalists.[23] The Israel Association of Journalists withdrew from the federation due to this criticism, claiming that Al-Manar employees "are not journalists, they are terrorists".[24][25]

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists, has also expressed alarm over the incident as "it (Al-Manar) does not appear based on a monitoring of its broadcasts today to be serving any discernible military function, according to CPJ’s analysis."[26]

Content

Al-Manar's programming consists of 25% music videos and fillers, 25% series and dramas, 25% talk shows, and finally 25% news and family shows.[27]

Most of the programming is self-produced. The point-of-view of the programming is strongly anti-Israel and anti-US. "Appearing on al-Manar, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah frequently calls for `Death to America`" and the Statue of Liberty is depicted "as a ghoul, her gown dripping blood, a knife instead of a torch in her raised hand."[28]

Programs

The news programming includes much footage from the international press, especially the Israeli. Additionally the station subscribes to the following wire services: Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Presse, and Deutsche Presse Agentur. The station airs eight news bulletins a day in Arabic in addition to one in English and one in French.[29]

Several talk shows are regularly aired on al-Manar. The best known of these is Beit al-ankabut (The Spider's House); its title alludes to a metaphor, Hassan Nasrallah often employs to describe Israel. It is dedicated to uncovering the "weakness of the Zionist entity", i.e. Israel. It attempts to convince the Arab world that Israel could easily be destroyed, for example, by an increase in the Arab population and the implementation of the Palestinian right of return.[citation needed] Further talk shows include Hadith al-sa'a (Talk of the Hour), Matha ba'ad (What's Next?), Ma'al Hadath (With The Event), Bayna Kawsayn (Between The Brackets), Milafat (Files), Al-din wa al-hayat (Religion and Life), and Nun wa al-qalam (The 'Nun' and the Pen). Guests include well-known journalists, analysts, writers, Lebanese politicians, spokespersons of terrorist groups, and Islamic scholars, who then discuss current religious, political, and cultural, regional and global topics.[30]

Al-Manar often airs music videos and fillers in between full-length programs and during commercial breaks. The music videos are generally dedicated to the following seven purposes: the promotion of the Hezbollah, highlighting the importance of armed resistance against Israel, the glorification of martyrdom, spreading of anti-Americanism, denunciation of Israel and Zionism as the embodiments of terrorism, the appeals for the destruction of Israel,[citation needed] and the depiction of the future of Arab youths. The videos are on average three minutes long. The videos are usually professionally produced by the station itself and each usually takes about three to four days to make.[31] The filler material usually consists of appeals to donate money to the Hezbollah, lists of demonstrations taking place worldwide, and slogans in English, Hebrew, or Arabic.[32]

The station also offers sports broadcasting - such as the programs Goal and Tis'in daqiqa (Ninety Minutes) -, family programming - such as Al-mustakshifoun al-judud (The New Explorers), Al-Muslimoun fi al-Sin (Muslims in China), and Ayday al-khayr (Hands of Benevolence) -, game shows - including Al-mushahid shahid (The Viewer Is the Witness), where contestants attempt to guess the names of Israeli political and military figures, and Al-muhima (The Mission) -, and even a children's program called Al-manr al-saghir (The Little Manar), which is in the style of the US show Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, targeting three- to seven-year-olds.[33]

During Ramadan, al-Manar features special programs, many of which are self-produced. In 2001, Izz al-Din al-Qassam: Qisat al-jihad wa al-muqawama (Izz al-Din al-Qassam: A Story of Jihad and Resistance), a four-part drama based on the life of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, an early-twentieth-century Arab, after whom the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades are named. It was considered a success among Palestinians. The 2002 program Faris bi la jawad (A Knight without a Horse), which was produced by an Egyptian, was based on the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an old Russian anti-Semitic text claiming a conspiracy of Jews control the world, like many programs of the station. The 29-part series Ash-Shatat (The Diaspora), which was aired in 2003, was also based on The Protocols and produced in Syria; it led to the banning of al-Manar in France.[34]

Religion and politics

Suicide missions themselves are often aired on al-Manar as well as the video tapes made by the bombers hours before the attack.[35]

Until the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, al-Manar's programming political focus was mainly against the Israeli presence in Lebanon. While the withdrawal in May 2000 left a void in the station's programming, Hezbollah and al-Manar consider the Shebaa Farms to be Lebanese territory occupied by Israel, and this became a focal point for political programming. In September of that year, the al-Aqsa Intifada broke out, and al-Manar began to cover the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more extensively, overtly propagandizing to support the Palestinian militants.[36]

Al-Manar was the first TV station to report Hezbollah's condemnation of the September 11 attacks. Other non-state attacks against the United States have also been condemned on Al Manar, including the 2000 USS Cole bombing suicide attack against a US Navy destroyer.[37]

Journalistic standards and neutrality

According to Al Manar's news director, Hassan Fadlallah, Al Manar does not aim to be neutral in its broadcasting, "Neutrality like that of Al Jazeera is out of the question for us," Fadlallah said. "We cover only the victim, not the aggressor. CNN is the Zionist news network, Al Jazeera is neutral, and Al Manar takes the side of the Palestinians...He said Al Manar's opposition to neutrality means that, unlike Al Jazeera, his station would never feature interviews or comments by Israeli officials. "We're not looking to interview Sharon," Fadlallah said. "We want to get close to him in order to kill him."[4]

Accusations and restrictions

Designation as a 'terrorist entity'

Al-Manar was placed on a US terrorist watchlist in December 2004.[37] Reporters without Borders said that no evidence was presented of Al-Manar's involvement with terrorism.[37] The main evidence provided for Al-Manar being anti-semitic was its partial showing, in October-November 2003, of the Syrian-produced 29-part series Ash-Shatat ("The Diaspora"). "Al Manar management apologized for airing the series, dropped it and explained that the Station had purchased it without first viewing the entire series."[37] Lebanon's ambassador to the United States, Farid Abboud, protested: "If you want simply to demonize or eliminate one side, you're not going to advance the issue. If you are going to focus on one side simply because of the political message, it's unacceptable and it's a grave breach of the freedom of speech.".[38]

In March 2006 Al-Manar was designated as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity" by the United States, declaring it "owned or controlled by the Iran-funded Hizballah terrorist network".[6] As a result Al-Manar was made subject to US sanctions.[1][6][39]

Allegations of antisemitic programming

One of the satellite providers which have transmitted Al-Manar has been the French satellite Hot Bird 4, owned by the Eutelsat Satellite organisation. On December 13, 2004, the French Conseil d'État, the highest administrative Court in France, ordered the French-based Eutelsat Company to shut down Al-Manar broadcasts following accusations that its programmes were anti-Semitic and could incite hatred.[40][41]

Al-Manar claims the French decision was political and not legal, influenced by Israel and Jewish lobbies.[38][42]

Al-Manar TV was one of the first media outlets to run the rumor that 4,000 Jewish employees did not attend work at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and the allegation that the attack may have been masterminded by the Israelis.[43]

Banning of broadcasts

Al-Manar's broadcasts have been banned by the U.S., France,[7] Spain,[8] and Germany.[9]. After the U.S. Department of State placed Al-Manar on the Terrorist Exclusion List on December 17, 2004, transmissions to North America via Intelsat's satellites were blocked.[38][44] Javed Iqbal, a resident of New York is the first person to charged under this law. Iqbal, 45, a Pakestani who had been living in the U.S. for more than 25 years, was charged by federal prosecutors with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization by broadcasting Al Manar to U.S. customers, in exchange for thousands of dollars payment. In a 2008 plea bargain, he agreed to serve a prison term of up to 6 1/2 years. Saleh Elahwal, who also operates HDTV, was also charged and will go on trial January 5, 2009.[45][46] Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, says it's constitutional for the government to outlaw businesses with direct operational ties to terrorist organizations, and media outlets that directly incite and direct violent action, but in this case, the government is trying to stop the spread of ideas. Mark Dubowitz, who founded the Coalition Against Terrorist Media to in part stop Al-Manar, said Al-Manar was shouting fire in a crowded theater.[47]

The Dutch Media Authority "discovered that a satellite owned by New Skies Satellites was carrying Al-Manar and has ordered the company to stop doing so, because the channel did not have the required Dutch licence."[48][49] Many, including Radio Netherlands Worldwide Media Network[11][12] consider this to be a ban.

"The Spanish authorities banned the retransmission of Al-Manar by Hispasat on Wednesday, June 30, 2005 (which effectively prevents its reception not only in the Iberian Peninsula but also in South America)".[8]

The lack of transmission from Intelsat had the effect of making Al-Manar unavailable in Canada, which some have interpreted as a "ban".[13] While Al-Manar is not approved for distribution in Canada,[50] there is no record of application for approval having been made.[51]

TARBS World TV voluntarily stopped broadcasting al-Manar in Australia on November 5, 2003, 15 days into an investigation by the ABA regarding accusations of "broadcast programs that are likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or gratuitously vilify any person or group on the basis of their ethnicity, nationality, race or religion". The report for this investigation was never finalised as TARBS had gone into receivership by that time. Al-Manar has recently (August 2009) received approval for broadcast by Australian Communications and Media Authority.[1]

Al-Manar provides a live feed of its programming on the Internet through its website. This effectively circumvents the bans as Al-Manar is still available in all the areas it does not broadcast to via satellite.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Elise Labott and Henry Schuster (2006). "Lebanese media outlets' assets blocked". cnn.com. http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/03/23/hezbollah.tv/index.html. 
  2. ^ "Al-Manar Television". http://web.archive.org/web/20030410115717/http://web.manartv.org/html/about.html. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Avi Jorisch (Winter 2004). "Al-Manar: Hizbullah TV, 24/7". Middle East Quarterly. http://www.meforum.org/article/583. Retrieved September 3, 2006. 
  4. ^ a b c Jeffrey Goldberg (October 14, 2002). "A Reporter At Large: In The Party Of God (Part I)". The New Yorker. http://www.jeffreygoldberg.net/articles/tny/a_reporter_at_large_in_the_par.php. Retrieved March 31, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b "Terrorist Television Hezbollah has a worldwide reach". National Review Online. December 22, 2004. http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/jorisch200412220812.asp. Retrieved March 31, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c U.S. Department of the Treasury (2006). "U.S. Designates Al-Manar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity". U.S. Department of the Treasury. http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/js4134.htm. 
  7. ^ a b "France pulls plug on Arab network". BBC News. December 14, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4093579.stm. Retrieved August 9, 2006. 
  8. ^ a b c d Commission of the European Communities Commission document SEC(2006) 160 Accessed July 31, 2006
  9. ^ a b "Germany bans Hezbollah television station Al-Manar". Fox News. November 21, 2008. http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_wires/2008Nov21/0,4675,EUGermanyHezbollah,00.html. Retrieved March 18, 2009. 
  10. ^ COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES
  11. ^ a b Radio Netherlands Worldwide Blog Iranian commentator reacts to Dutch ban on two satellite TV stations Accessed July 30, 2006
  12. ^ a b Radio Netherlands Worldwide Blog Two Islamic TV stations banned in the Netherlands Accessed July 30, 2006
  13. ^ a b "Banning Al-Manar TV in North America and France(Chat session with Mohammad S. Dalbah)". Islamonline.net. December 30, 2004. http://www.islamonline.net/livedialogue/english/Browse.asp?hGuestID=5gNjFx. Retrieved August 9, 2006. 
  14. ^ ABA News Release NR 135/2004 22 October 2004 ABA investigation into Al Manar programming on TARBS Accessed August 15, 2006
  15. ^ "Cable broadcaster under investigation by ABA". ABC Australia. November 14, 2003. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2003/s989354.htm. Retrieved August 9, 2006. 
  16. ^ a b c Jorisch, Avi (2004). Beacon of Hatred: Inside Hizballahs Al-Manar Television. Washington Institute for Near East Policy. p. 26. ISBN 0-944029-88-4. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0944029884/. 
  17. ^ Ibid. Pg. 26-27.
  18. ^ Ibid. Pg. 23-25
  19. ^ Ibid. pp. 25–27
  20. ^ BBC News, July 26, 2006 Israel steps up "psy-ops" in Lebanon Accessed August 1, 2006
  21. ^ "Hizbollah rockets hit Haifa, Israel strikes Lebanon". http://www.newssafety.com/hotspots/countries/lebanon/alertnet/lebanon160706.htm. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  22. ^ "Can Israel attack Hezbollah radio and television stations? ". http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/07/17/lebano13748.htm. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  23. ^ The "International Federation of Journalists condemned bombing of Al-Manar". http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=4064&Language=ENThe. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  24. ^ Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2006, Israel threatens to leave World Press Federation Note that this article refers to the "World Press Federation" in an apparent error
  25. ^ Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2006, Israeli journalists pull out of IFJ Accessed July 27, 2006
  26. ^ Lebanon: "Israeli forces strike Al-Manar TV facilities". http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/mideast/lebanon13july06na.htmlLebanon:. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  27. ^ Jorisch, Avi: "Beacon of Hatred: Inside Hizballah's Al-Manar Television". Washington, DC, 2004. Pg. 36.
  28. ^ Avi Jorisch, National Review, December 22, 2004, Terrorist Television Hezbollah has a worldwide reach.
  29. ^ Ibid. Pg. 101
  30. ^ Ibid. Pg. 102-103.
  31. ^ Ibid. Pg. 104.
  32. ^ Ibid. Pg. 105.
  33. ^ Ibid. Pg. 105.
  34. ^ Ibid. Pg. 103-104; Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies: Legal proceedings to ban Al-Manar in France and Lebanon’s rushing to Hezbollah’s aid
  35. ^ Ibid. Pg. 80-81 and pg. 83
  36. ^ Ibid. Pg. 84
  37. ^ a b c d Franklin Lamb (January 1-3, 2010). "The Israel Lobby's War on Al Manar TV: How a Lebanese Television Station Got Included on the T-List". Counterpunch. http://counterpunch.org/lamb01012010.html. 
  38. ^ a b c Reuters, December 18, 2004 U.S. designates al-Manar TV as 'terrorist' Accessed August 1, 2006
  39. ^ "U.S. Treasury List of Organizations sanctioned under Executive Order 13224" (PDF). http://www.treasury.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/terror/terror.pdf. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  40. ^ (full text of the decision, press release, in French; BBC report)
  41. ^ EU, Brussels, March 17, 2005 EU Rules and Principles on Hate Broadcasts: Frequently Asked Questions Accessed July 27, 2006
  42. ^ Aljazeera.net, December 17, 2004 US designates al-Manar TV 'terrorist' Accessed August 1, 2006
  43. ^ "Absent without Leave". Urban Legends References Pages. September 21, 2001. November 5, 2006.
  44. ^ The Washington Times, December 19, 2004 Hezbollah's TV loses U.S. feed Accessed August 1, 2006
  45. ^ NY man pleads guilty to broadcasting Hezbollah TV, Reuters, Dec 23, 2008
  46. ^ NYC man admits he helped air Hezbollah TV, By LARRY NEUMEISTER, AP, Dec. 23, 2008
  47. ^ N.Y. Man Charged with Aiding Hezbollah TV Channel, NPR, Weekend Edition August 27, 2006, LIANE HANSEN, host.
  48. ^ Aljazeera.net, March 17, 2005 Al-Manar TV to go off Dutch platform Accessed July 30, 2006
  49. ^ Haaretz, March 18, 2005 EU blocks Hezbollah TV broadcasts in Europe Accessed July 30, 2006
  50. ^ "Revised lists of eligible satellite services". July 28, 2006. http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/satlist.htm. Retrieved August 3, 2006. 
  51. ^ "Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Search page". http://search.crtc.gc.ca/engsimple/query.html?tx0=manar&button1=Search&col=crtc&col=archive&ty0=w&op0=%2B&fl0=&qp=url%3Aeng&charset=iso-8859-1&ht=0&qt=&qs=&qc=&pw=550px&la=eng&qm=1&st=1&oq=&rq=0&ql=a&si=0. Retrieved August 3, 2006. 

References

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