Monday, January 31, 2011

AIB condemns closure of Al Jazeera Cairo bureau; laments lack of freedom

London, 30 January 2011

The Association for International Broadcasting, the industry association for international TV, radio, mobile and online broadcasting, strongly condemns the closure of the Cairo bureau of Al Jazeera Network and the withdrawal of accreditation to Al Jazeera correspondents in Egypt.

The moves by the Egyptian Ministry of Information, announced on Egyptian TV and by MENA, the official news agency in Egypt, come at a time when the focus of a majority of the world's media is on the continuing unrest in the North African country. The announcement on MENA said: "The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered ... suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today."

Al Jazeera Network's Arabic- and English-language services have provided extensive, constant coverage of developments in Egypt since the start of demonstrations across the country, providing news and analysis to viewers in Egypt, across North Africa and the Middle East and to a global audience.

"AIB and its global membership of broadcasters protests strongly at the restrictions placed on Al Jazeera Network in Egypt," says AIB chief executive Simon Spanswick. "The Arabic and English channels reach tens of millions of viewers, including significant numbers of Egyptian expatriates around the world who have come to rely on Al Jazeera for up-to-the-minute coverage of the fast-moving events in Egypt. The move by the authorities in Egypt demonstrates a complete disregard for freedom of expression as well as media freedom in the country. AIB looks forward to the Egyptian authorities swiftly reconsidering the restrictions they have placed on the channel and allowing Al Jazeera and all other media companies to report from the country without hindrance."

The move by the Egyptian authorities follows similar restrictions by other governments around the Middle East on print and broadcast news media preventing them from reporting freely. Despite the restrictions, media outlets find ways of circumventing restrictions thanks to extensive technological developments and it is expected that Al Jazeera Network and other news media will find ways to bring news from Egypt as the crisis continues to audiences both within the country, across the region and throughout the world.
(AIB/Simon Spanswick via Rachael Baughn)