Bahrain closes Saudi tycoon prince's TV news channel

Bahrain closes Saudi tycoon prince's TV news channel
Alarab News Channel staff are seen on duty at the editorial office in the Bahraini capital Manama on December 15, 2014.

DUBAI - Bahrain on Monday announced the closure of a new pan-Arab news channel, owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, which had vowed to practise "objective" journalism.

The Alarab News Channel, launched on February 1, was on air for only a few hours before reverting to promotional material while trying to resolve what it called "technical and administrative" issues.

"It has been decided to halt the activities of Alarab, the channel not having received the necessary permits," a statement from the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority said on Monday.

Shortly after its launch on February 1, programming was interrupted after Alarab broadcast an interview with an opposition politician in Bahrain.

The interview with a Shiite opponent of the Gulf kingdom's Sunni rulers sparked criticism in the pro-government Bahraini daily Akhbar al-Khaleej.

The newspaper said it learnt that Alarab was taken off the air for "not adhering to the norms prevalent in Gulf countries".

The head of media at Bahrain's information ministry, Yusuf Mohammed, said last week that "cooperation with Alarab's administration is ongoing, in order to resume its broadcasts and complete necessary measures as soon as possible".

Jamal Khashoggi, Alarab's general manager, could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.

Prior to the launch of Alarab, he told AFP the channel was "not going to take sides".

Khashoggi said "a news channel should not have a political agenda... We should just be a news channel that provides accurate, objective information." Although its news programmes stopped within hours of the launch, Alarab continued to show promotional material.

Until just after 1200 GMT on Monday, it was broadcasting a message that programming had been interrupted for "technical and administrative reasons, and we'll be back soon, God willing".

But at about 1204 GMT the promotional material stopped and the screen displayed only Alarab's green and white logo.

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