Lebanon/Thailand: Hezbollah TV broadcasting via Thai satellite
Friday, January 11th, 2008

Text of report in English by Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post website on 10 January

Thaicom, a private satellite company in Thailand, has begun airing the broadcasts of Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV.

The satellite covers Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and most of Europe. The Thai satellite has significantly boosted the resonance of Al-Manar’s propaganda messages around the world, said the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre (ITIC) in Herzliyya, Israel. “This is an outrage,” said ITIC head Dr Re’uven Erlich. “Other satellites have stopped airing Al-Manar, so Hezbollah has found a way round it.”

Approached by The Media Line, Thaicom said it is considering its response and will only offer a formal reaction over the weekend. However, company sources said the decision to transmit Al-Manar broadcasts was a “purely business decision, which had nothing to do with politics”. Thaicom considers Al-Manar programming as “news and entertainment,” the sources said.

The US State Department decided in December 2004 to add Al-Manar to its Terrorist Exclusion List. Since then, the European satellites Hispasat and Eutelsat have ceased airing the station’s broadcasts.

“It’s a war. Al-Manar is Hezbollah’s main communication tool, through which it spreads anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, and anti-American incitement. It spreads Hezbollah and Iranian values of radical Islam,” Erlich explained. He added that the fact that Al-Manar can now be seen in southeast Asia means that Indonesia and Malaysia, two countries with a large Muslim population, are open to its messages of hatred.

In the past few years since the European satellites stopped airing Al-Manar, the station could only be seen via two Arab satellites: Nilesat and Arabsat. The former is an Egyptian-owned satellite, which broadcasts to the Middle East, North Africa, and a few countries in southern Europe. The latter is a pan-Arab satellite, with approximately the same reach.

[Lyngsat.com satellite website lists Al-Manar as testing via the Thaicom 5 satellite at 78.5 degrees east, 3600 MHz, symbol rate 26667, FEC 3/4, global beam]

(Source: The Jerusalem Post website, Jerusalem, in English 10 Jan 08 via BBC Monitoring)