Joe Sheffer, The Times, 1st August 2011
London-based television channel launched by Bahraini opposition activists is being targeted by electronic jamming from the Gulf.
Since the station’s launch on July 17, Lualua TV’s frequency has been attacked 11 times by a source that has been electronically pinpointed as coming from Bahrain. The channel has been forced to change its transmission frequency three times. Its first broadcast lasted only five hours before an attack forced the station from the air.
Lualua TV is produced in a small industrial unit in northwest London, where it is serving as the Gulf state’s first and only opposition satellite channel. It is being funded by private donors in the Arab world.
The channel is named after the Pearl roundabout in Manama, which was the focal point of the democracy protests that started in February. The Bahraini Government demolished the Pearl monument in March, which has become a symbol of resistance to the Kingdom’s monarchy.
The station, which broadcasts in Arabic, is aimed at members of the opposition inside Bahrain, via the popular satellite service Hotbird. The channel features interviews with prominent exiled politicians and religious leaders, but also entertainment programmes including what Yasser al-Sayegh, the director of the channel, describes as Bahrain’s first candid-camera-style show.
Mr al-Sayegh said: “We only have one in channel in Bahrain and it’s run by the Government. We applied for a licence to broadcast in Bahrain, but we were turned down on multiple occasions. We want to give Bahrainis a different view point on their country, this isn’t just a political platform to criticise the government. In Bahrain even the most mundane news is censored. This summer there have been electricity shortages, but no one has been able to report on these. We’ve done simple things like letting people know about the shortages.”
The channel has four reporters in Bahrain and 15 staff in London.
The crackdown on press freedom has continued despite a state of emergency being lifted on June 1. The authorities are continuing to maintain strict control over the circulation of news and information including a reporting black out on the continuing trials of local journalists by military courts.