Nilesat blacks out Al Jazeera

Arab viewers to Nilesat need to look elsewhere for the Al Jazeera news channel.  Egypt’s powerful information ministry ordered the signal to be cut from Nilesat. A broadcast information card alerted viewers as to other satellites still carrying the channel, notably the Arabsat system. Al Jazeera, in a statement, said it was with “utter disappointment” that its signal was no longer available to Egyptians.

Officially Al Jazeera is now banned from operating in Egypt. Al Jazeera correspondents in Egypt continued to file reports by phone. “The information minister ordered … suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,” Egypt’s official Mena news agency said late on Saturday.

Wadah Khanfar, Director General of the Al Jazeera Network said: “Regardless of the multiple attempts by the Egyptian authorities to deter and impede our reporting, Al Jazeera continues its comprehensive coverage of the landmark events unfolding in Egypt.” 

Khanfar added: “Under very trying circumstances we have delivered the highest standard of reporting from Egypt which has gripped our growing global audience. Even in such a short space of time we can be proud of our achievements, level of professionalism and sophistication in covering the significant developments in Egypt.”

“Al Jazeera sees this [closure] as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists.   In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.” 

Al Jazeera has meanwhile urged Egyptian citizens to sand video-phone content and similar reports direct to Al Jazeera. “This call goes out to bloggers, citizen journalists, and anyone with a camera who has content to send,” says Al Jazeera.  We’ve already made great use of social networking, and today we’ve found public contributions intensifying.”

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