Arabsat on defensive over Bahrain pull out

Satellite operator Arabsat has criticised media coverage of Bahrain’s Radio and Television Union’s decision to stop broadcasting its bouquet of channels on Arabsat’s Badr 4 satellite at 26° East.

Coverage has focused on Bahrain’s decision being a response to the transmission of Iranian channels on the satellite that allegedly incited sectarian strife in the troubled Gulf kingdom. Arabsat said that its last contract for capacity with the Iranian Space Agency was signed five years ago, that the capacity leased by the agency was limited in coverage and that its channels were difficult to receive in the Arab World and that the Al-Alam channel, the main source of Bahrain’s ire, ceased broadcasting on Arabsat’s transponders over the Arab world two years ago but continued to broadcast on Nilesat.

It also said that Arabsat had reduced the signal strength of the Iranian bouquet that still included Al-Alam to reduce spillover and that Al-Alam was still available throughout the Arab countries via Eutelsat’s Hotbird position. Finaly, it said the issue had been discussed in depth at its general assembly and that, to protect itself legally, it had reached an agreement with Iran to stop broadcasting Al-Alam on the Iranian bouquet.

Arabsat said it hoped that Bahrain would now reconsider its decision.