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UAE cable providers 'silence' London-based Al-Araby TV amid region-wide crackdown on freedom of speech Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

UAE cable providers 'silence' London-based Al-Araby TV amid region-wide crackdown on freedom of speech

The channel was launched in 2015 on the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution [Al-Araby TV]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2017

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Two leading Emirati subscription television networks have ended contracts with the London-based al-Araby TV in the latest move to censor media amid the ongoing Gulf crisis.

Two leading Emirati subscription cable providers have ended contracts with the London-based al-Araby TV in the latest move to censor media amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and neighbouring Gulf states.

The OSN and Etisalat / E-Vision networks ended deals with the broadcaster on Saturday amid an region-wide crackdown on Qatari-linked media platforms.

"OSN and E-Vision have violated contracts signed with Al-Araby TV by stopping its broadcasts on their platforms without giving any reasoning," the channel said in a statement.

"Stopping Al-Araby TV broadcasts without legal justification can only be seen as part of a systematic campaign to silence voices and take away freedom of expression."

The channel accused the networks of "politicising business" by allowing the policies of the Emirati government to affect their contractual obligations in what it said was a "flagrant violation of international trade law."

"We will pursue these companies legally and demand compensation for this damage," it added.

The Arab satellite TV channel is owned by Fadaat Media, the Qatari company behind the pan-Arab daily al-Araby al-Jadeed and its English-language edition The New Arab.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced they had cut all ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting Islamist extremists - an accusation the small emirate strongly denies.

On June 22, the four Arab states issued a 13-point list of demands, including shutting down broadcaster Al Jazeera and the London-based The New Arab, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions.

The UN has voiced outrage over the Gulf countries' demand to shut down Al Jazeera, describing it as "an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion."

Reporters without Borders (RSF) has also issued a strong condemnation of the Saudi-led coalition's demand, calling the move "an unacceptable act of blackmail".

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia blocked access to Palestinian news website Arab48 following the publication of reports on Saudi-Israeli relations, notably one that highlighted Israel's welcoming of Mohammed bin Salman’s appointment as crown prince.

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