The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Hamas to launch satellite TV station

It looks like Hamas may launch its own regional satellite television station:

Gaza, 28 August: Ramattan news agency learned today from sources close to Hamas that the movement plans to launch its satellite television channel on 1 October.

About a year ago, Hamas launched its private television station, Al-Aqsa Television, but the station remained an experimental terrestrial channel. The station served Hamas in the legislative elections that were held early this year, and helped it win most of the parliamentary seats by airing propaganda and reports on Hamas's leaders, candidates and political programme.

According to sources close to the television station, its will begin its trial broadcast through Nile Sat, in early October, adding that it would become the first party-owned Palestinian satellite channel.

It is noteworthy that more than one private Palestinian television channel is expected to be launched during the next few months.

Source: Ramattan News Agency website, Gaza.
There several things that are remarkable about this. First, if it goes ahead on NileSat, it will mean the Egyptian government is agreeing to this -- possibly as another bargaining chip in Cairo's ongoing negotiations with various Palestinian factions. Secondly, as the article points out, this will be the second time that an Arab political party (especially one that remains essentially in opposition, even if it won elections and formed a government) gets its own satellite channel -- the first is Hizbullah's Al Manar, which is getting plenty of attention these days.

Of course, it could be that this channel will be too poorly funded and vulnerable to Israeli attacks (on the physical studios, for instance) to amount to much. But it has the potential to become an influential source of information in the Arab world, much as Al Manar has during the Lebanon war. And there's no shortage of emotionally-charged news coming from the Occupied Territories...