Alarab TV general manager and editor-in-chief Jamal Khashoggi says the TV station will resume broadcasting “with [the] same planned reporting standards” very soon.
The network stopped broadcasting within 24 hours of its launch on February 1st after it had failed to obtain the required licensing approval to begin broadcasting in the country, according to Bahraini authorities.
Arabic daily Akhbar Alkhaleej claimed programming was suspended because the station aired footage of a member of the Bahraini opposition, Khalil Al Marzooq, which was deemed offensive to the government.
Khashoggi told Digital Broadcast Middle East’s sister publication, Arabian Business, the station would re-launch and would refuse to back down on its uncensored reporting standards. However, he could not confirm where or when this would happen.
“We are not commenting on [the] Alarab matter for now other than that Alarab will resume with [the] same planned reporting standards that make an effective news outlet in our troubled region, where and when? That is to be released by HRH later,” he wrote in an email referring to Prince Alwaleed, the owner of Alarab TV.
The station was set to be a competitor to two other international networks based in the Gulf: Qatar-backed Al Jazeera, established in 1996, and Dubai-based Al Arabiya, which was launched in 2003 by Waleed Al Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of Saudi Arabia’s late King Fahad.
Both of those stations have been accused of being a front to promote the political views of their owners. Khashoggi has insisted Alarab TV would be objective.
“I think a news channel should not have a political agenda... We should just be a news channel that provides accurate, objective information,” he said prior to the channel’s launch.
Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist, was himself forced to resign from Saudi Arabia’s Al Watan daily after it ran an opinion column that angered religious conservatives in 2010.
Alarab TV was forced to set up in Bahrain because Saudi Arabia does not allow independent broadcasters, although its largest foreign bureau, with 20 employees, is located in Riyadh.
Prince Alwaleed is chairman of Saudi-based Kingdom Holding, which has stakes in media companies such as News Corporation, Twitter and Rotana Group, which runs entertainment TV channels in the Middle East.
Its diverse interests also include the Disneyland Paris theme park, Citigroup and Four Seasons hotels.
Prince Alwaleed, who does not hold any government role, has been critical of the highly conservative Saudi government under the late King Abdullah, who is his uncle.
In December, he said some Saudi ministers were arrogant and superior and needed to “do more for the Saudi citizen” during an interview with the English daily Saudi Gazette.
He also has suggested the government establish a sovereign wealth fund to protect it against the sliding oil price, while describing its reliance on oil revenues for 90 percent of the budget income as “a mistake”.