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Italian media watchdog probes Lebanese TV channel over alleged unauthorized broadcasting

LONDON: The Italian media authority Agcom has launched an investigation into Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV news channel for alleged unauthorized broadcasting, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported on Friday.

The Hezbollah-affiliated network has been accused of broadcasting from Italian territory without the necessary license granted by Agcom.

A spokesperson for the watchdog confirmed to Arab News that a formal probe had been initiated but said it could not release any further information or statements on ongoing investigations.

The news emerged after the Denis Diderot Committee, an international network of academics and experts in the audio-visual sector, published a report claiming that the Beirut-based channel had been broadcasting to the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe via two Eutelsat satellites from Italian territory without authorization from Agcom.

The French research institute initially alerted the French regulatory authority Arcom and Eutelsat’s owner, expressing concern. After a preliminary investigation, Eutelsat and Arcom identified the channel’s transmission from two Italian teleports and promptly alerted Agcom, which initiated investigative proceedings.

Describing the network as a “promoter of Islamist terrorist organizations,” the committee said Al Mayadeen had breached European regulations. Its report also accused the channel and its websites of spreading antisemitic and Holocaust denial statements, as well as promoting apology for terrorism.

In addition, the committee claimed that Al Mayadeen, “contributes to disinformation in the Arab world and Arabic-speaking populations worldwide about Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.”

In a statement, the committee urged European national authorities and the EU to take measures against Al Mayadeen’s antisemitism and terrorism promotion.

Al Mayadeen, a pan-Arabist satellite news television channel affiliated to the Shiite Islamist political party and militant group, launched in June 2012, and has news reporters in most Arab countries.

Committee coordinator, Andre Lange, told Arab News that Agcom was in the “process” of checking with other European authorities if there had been a request for a license.

“If this is not the case, they will ask the switch-off of the channel,” Lange said.

The committee noted the difficulty in identifying the channels’ country of jurisdiction according to the European AVMS (audio-visual media services) directive and called for European regulatory authorities and satellite operators to create a register of uplinks to non-European channels from European territory.

“We have focussed on Al Mayadeen TV. But it is probable that other Arabic channels on the same multiplexes do not have the authorization,” Lange added.

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