Nilesat takes Hezbollah-backed Al Manar channel off air

by Clayton Vallabhan | April 7th, 2016

An image grab taken from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV on December 27, 2015, shows Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, giving a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon on the one-week anniversary of the killing of Samir Kantar (portrait-L), one of the party's top militants, in a suspected Israeli air strike in Damascus.  AFP PHOTO / HO / AL-MANAR    === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / AL-MANAR" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===

Nilesat has┬ácut the broadcast of Hezbollah’s TV station in the Shiite group’s native Lebanon, according to a report by AP. This is perhaps the latest move in escalating tensions between the Iranian-backed organization and Sunni Arab countries in the region.

Al-Manar, the official station of the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah, briefly went off air after its carrier, Egypt’s NileSat, dropped the channel. Technicians scrambled to reprogram satellite receivers after the station switched its broadcast to Russia’s Express satellite provider in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s state news agency reported that the Egyptian satellite company NileSat informed the country’s Information Ministry on Tuesday of its intention to drop Al-Manar’s broadcasts, saying they “provoke sectarian strife.”

Al-Manar is popular among Hezbollah supporters but is widely watched by others, particularly for regional news and updates on the Syria conflict. Its political reports openly favor pro-Iranian perspectives over pro-Saudi ones. It also broadcasts cooking and exercise shows, educational programs and documentaries.

 

The Arab League designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization in March.

 

It could take days for Al-Manar to resume its transmission across the Middle East as it negotiates with various satellite providers, according to an official at the station who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

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