CPJ urges Dubai to restore Pakistani TV transmissions

November 21, 2007

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai

Via facsimile: + 971 4  330 3399

Dear Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,

We are greatly disturbed by your government’s decision on Friday to stop satellite re-transmission of GEO TV and ARY One World Television through the Dubai Media City. The fact that the stations remain off the air five days after the decision undermines the stated aim of the United Arab Emirates “to transform Dubai into a knowledge-based society and economy” as described on the Media City Web site.

The decision, made under what media reports called “intense pressure” from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s administration, also betrays the trust that broadcasters and investors have placed in the Dubai broadcast facility.

The official Emirates News Agency quotes Ibrahim al-Abed, director general of UAE’s National Media Council, as justifying the shutdown. “The UAE has been an advocate of international law and an active contributor to peace and stability in the region,” he is quoted as saying. “In the light of the current sensitive state of affairs in Pakistan, the UAE can only assume its responsibility and maintain its neutrality.”

Yet silencing media, as your government has effectively done, directly interferes in a country’s internal affairs. The “sensitive state of affairs” will only be aggravated by cutting off voices of independent journalism, a tradition that Pakistan has worked to maintain since its birth 60 years ago.

We call on your government to reconsider its decision and reverse the damage done to GEO TV and ARY One World TV, to their viewing audiences in Pakistan and around the world, and to the Dubai Media City’s reputation as an open and responsible international broadcast facility.

Joel Simon
Executive Director