Last updated: 16 May, 2011

Arab League asks satellite operator to block Libya TVs

The Arab League has asked satellite operator Arabsat — which it owns — to stop transmitting Libyan state-owned channels, the 22-member bloc said in a statement distributed on Monday.

The Arab League’s council of ministers “has requested the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation to halt the transmission of the Libyan Jamahiriya channel and all television channels affiliated with the Libyan authorities, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973,” it said.

Arab League members meeting in Cairo made the request late on Sunday, after talks to elect a new secretary general.

Protests against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi that erupted on February 15 have turned into a full blown conflict with NATO conducting a bombing campaign against Kadhafi’s military installations, communication centres and troops as part of a UN-mandated air campaign to protect civilians.

In the rebel-held east of the country, lawyers have accused regime broadcasters — Al-Jamahiriya and Al-Jamahiriya 2 — of inciting hatred and violence by painting rebels as terrorists seeking to split the country in two.

Although Kadhafi has made only a handful of speeches since the protests erupted, Libyan broadcasters are widely viewed as an extension of the regime.

Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting, which transmits news on several channels inside Libya and via satellite across the Middle East, is already under US sanctions.