Saudi dissident TV announces Arabsat broadcast plans
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

London-based PTV Mira, the television channel of the Saudi dissident Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, has announced that it will be launching transmissions on the Arabsat 2B satellite, which is part-owned by the Saudi government.

A scrolling caption on PTV Mira’s existing transmission on the Eutelsat-owned Hotbird satellite states that the channel will commence broadcasts via Arabsat “soon”, and lists two possible frequencies - 12596 MHz vertical and 12703 MHz horizontal - on the Arabsat 2B satellite located at the 30.5 degrees East orbital position. The nearest known transponder frequencies to those announced - 12595 H and 12703 V - are both on transponders spot-beamed into the Middle East.

It is not known whether PTV Mira has negotiated carriage on this satellite directly through Arabsat, or if it has arranged transponder space through a third-party lease.

Arabsat, also known as the Arab Satellite Communications Organization, is owned by 21 countries of the Arab League. Based in Riyadh, the company operates satellites in the Middle East and North Africa. The Saudi government is a major stakeholder in the company, owning about 37 per cent.

PTV Mira is the current name of the channel operated by the Saudi dissident Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia group, headed by Sa’d al-Faqih. Mira gives its address as a box operated by a London mail-handling and virtual office services company.

The channel has operated on a number of satellites, including Hotbird and the Greek-owned Hellas Sat, and under different names such as Al-Islah and Debate TV. PTV Mira rarely shows moving pictures, with the majority of its programming consisting of tickertape bars against a static background showing news and messages. The station currently broadcasts via the Hotbird 8 satellite on a transponder operated by the Paris-based Globecast organization.

(Source: BBC Monitoring research 23 Oct 07)