JORDAN: Government shuts down two Iranian satellite TV stations

PARIS, July 9, 2009 (RSF) — The Jordanian government has shut down the Amman bureaus of two satellite TV stations that are funded by the Iranian government, the Arabic-language Al-Alam and the English-language Press TV. Both were closed on June 30 2009.

On June 6, Reporters Without Borders wrote to media and communication minister Nabil Al-Sharif urging him to treat all satellite TV stations equally, regardless of the political tension between Iran and Jordan, and to therefore rescind the closure of Al-Alam and Press TV and give them the licenses and accreditation they need.

"News media must be able to work freely even if their editorial policies or their funding are clearly linked to a foreign country," the press freedom organisation said.

The Jordanian government insists that the two bureaus were closed because they lacked the accreditation and permits needed to operate in Jordan. An Al-Alam journalist told Reporters Without Borders that his station submitted several requests to the media and communication ministry for the renewal of its accreditation in the past seven months. Press TV's accreditation used to be renewed automatically every year, but it has not been renewed for 2009.

Al-Alam was accused of "working without authorisation" because it filmed the inside of Jordan's Royal Council. In telephone conversations with several journalists, the media and communication minister stressed the government's desire to close all news media operating without a permit.

"In fact, it is only journalists working for news media funded by Iran that cannot work," Reporters Without Borders was told by one of the journalists affected. "Everyone knows it but we cannot prove it."