Kuwait plans independent international TV station

Station to have freedom from government interference, minister says
Kuwait city.
Kuwait city.

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Kuwait is planning to create an independent television and radio organisation to compete on the international stage, in what could be seen as a challenge to Qatar’s Al Jazeera network.

The “pioneering” new station would have freedom from government interference, Minister of Information Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al Humoud Al Sabah said in a statement carried by the state news agency KUNA.

The statement comes a day after the government revoked the citizenship of 18 opponents, including Ahmed Jabr Al Shammari, who ran a privately-owned television channel and newspapers that gave space to opposition figures and anti-government points of view.

The media outlets were closed down in July after twice being suspended in April and June after publishing stories about a videotape that discussed an alleged plot to overthrow the Gulf state's rulers.

The government said the coverage negatively affected Kuwait’s image.

Al Watan, owned by Sheikh Ali Al Khalifa Al Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, also was suspended.

Al Shammari is now effectively stateless.

The minister, Sheikh Salman, did not reveal specific details of the proposed new media outlet but said the decision had been approved by the cabinet in 2006.

“We always seek the best and the world is heading towards restructuring [media] sectors to be bodies that enjoy more capabilities and administrative and technical freedom away from government and official bureaucracy that cripples in certain points specialised technical work,” Sheikh Salman said.

“Our goal is to have a TV that is leading and pioneering in form and content.

“We hope to have the ability to put the state’s plans into effect and to market and promote the government’s achievements as well as to produce media products that are attractive to the whole society, particularly the youth.”

The also said state-run Kuwaiti TV has increased its viewership and commercial revenues.

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