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Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen satellite channel to launch next year
Krayyem, Kleib and bin Jiddo at a news conference at the Press Federation. Azakir.  -7-28-2011
Krayyem, Kleib and bin Jiddo at a news conference at the Press Federation. Azakir. -7-28-2011
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BEIRUT: A new Beirut-based satellite channel is set to launch early next year, aiming to cover the “reality” of economic and social issues in the Arab world, according to its director.

The channel will be part of Al-Mayadeen satellite media network, which will include a production company, a radio station, a website, an advertising company and other media-related projects, which will be rolled out successively.

The announcement was made Thursday during a news conference at the Press Federation by Ghassan bin Jiddo, the former head of Al-Jazeera’s Beirut office and a talk show host, who will head the network’s board of directors.

The project is being undertaken jointly by bin Jiddo and Nayef Krayyem, the owner of Union channel, which will now be called the Union Production Company and will produce content for Al-Mayadeen.

Krayyem will serve as Al-Mayadeen’s general manager and journalist Sami Kleib, another former Al-Jazeera figure, will be the director of news programs. Zahi Wehbe, a former talk show host at Future TV, is slated to play a similar role at the new network.

Bin Jiddo said the name Al-Mayadeen, Arabic for “public squares” or “domains,” was chosen to reflect the mounting challenges of people “in social, economic and other domains … and their aspirations for better in the cultural, political and other domains.”

The name also reflects this year’s popular protests by Arab populations in public squares, bin Jiddo continued, as it refers to Cairo’s Midan al-Tahrir or Tahrir Square, the epicenter of demonstrations in the country.

The headquarters of the network will be in Beirut and will have two major offices, one in Cairo and the other in Tunisia, noting that the network had a British license to operate.

“We began the process of design and acquiring technical equipment, which we expect will last for five months … in the meantime, the headquarters of the Union channel, which has become the Union Production Company, will host the network,” bin Jiddo said.

Bin Jiddo voiced hope that the network would be broadcasting by early 2012 and promised that Al-Mayadeen would reflect reality.

“Al-Mayadeen is an Arab satellite network with the slogan of reality media. It is keen to present the full picture, precise information, and to convey things as they are, in a professional media language committed to professionalism and balance,” he said.

As for the network’s political orientation, bin Jiddo said Al-Mayadeen would promote freedom, reform, social justice and the right to free expression.

Bin Jiddo added that the Palestinian cause would feature heavily in the network’s content and said it would not host Israeli officials, a decision made in line with the network’s position against the normalization of ties with Israel.

He stressed that the network was not funded by any Arab regime or state.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 29, 2011, on page 2.
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