Just hours after launching its first ever broadcast yesterday, Alarab TV, the Middle East’s newest news channel has gone off air, with an image of the channel’s logo displaying in place of normal programming.
Reports online suggest the news channel, which has its headquarters at the World Trade Centre in Bahrain, was ordered off air by Bahraini officials after one of its first ever feature interviews was conducted with Khalil Al Marzook, a senior figure in the Al Wefaq opposition party.
Such reports have not yet been confirmed, but during the interview, Alarab TV anchors focused heavily on the recent move by the Bahrain government to strip 72 Bahrainis of their nationality, including members of high profile Shia and Sunni families in the country.
Alarab TV has been funded by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and features some of the most advanced broadcasting infrastructure in the region. Broadcast industry analysts have told Digital Broadcast Middle East the channel likely cost in excess of US $200-million to set up.
The Bahraini news broadcaster went on air on February 1st with the public intention of redefining news journalism in the Middle East. In an interview with Digital Broadcast, editor in chief Jamal Khashoggi said that the TV channel would focus on news that was of the greatest relevance to local viewers.
“We will have our own voice, and after we launch we’ll continue to set ourselves apart from other news channels,” said Khashoggi. “Finding a unique angle to a story, or finding stories that haven’t been covered, is an ongoing challenge.”
During the same interview, Alarab TV chairman Fahad Al-Sukait said that other news broadcasters had lost their independence. “If you look at our rivals, they have a government-backed agenda, we will not.”
At the time of writing, Alarab TV's website also appeared to have gone offline, with the homepage showing a simple error message and the Alarab logo.