Bahrain closes new TV channel of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Off-air until further notice

DUBAI - Bahrain on Monday announced the closure of new pan-Arab news channel Alarab owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal just nine days after its launch.
"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.
Inaugurated on February 1, the channel was on the air for only a few hours before programming was interrupted. It continued to show promotional material.
Until just after 1200 GMT Monday, Alarab 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.
Alarab entered a crowded field that includes the first regional broadcaster, 19-year-old Al-Jazeera which is subsidised by Qatar.
It is also a rival for Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, established in 2003 and owned by Saudi Sheikh Waleed al-Ibrahim.
Critics have accused the established broadcasters of reflecting their owners' political views, especially during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.
Both long-running channels deny any slant in their reporting.
Alarab had vowed to be even-handed in its coverage.
"We are not going to take sides," Jamal Khashoggi, the general manager, said in an interview before the launch.
"I think a news channel should not have a political agenda... We should just be a news channel that provides accurate, objective information."
Because Saudi Arabia does not allow "independent" channels, Alarab had to find an alternative location "so Bahrain is appropriate", he said.
"Our channel in Bahrain is the first independent channel to be launched" in the Sunni-ruled island state, which is linked to its ally Saudi Arabia by a causeway.