Nine Arab telecoms ministers attended the ARABSAT conference
Lebanon is keen to boost media and satellite broadcasting industries, the telecoms minister said Wednesday as the country headed the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation
“Lebanon renews its commitment as a founding partner of ARABSAT and will put all its capacities in the service of the organisation,” Nicolas Sehnaoui said as he was appointed head of the organisation’s board for 2012.
Sehnaoui said his ministry has been working toward “transforming Lebanon into an open media hub, where satellite television stations and production studios are set up [without difficulty] and are connected through brand new telecommunications networks.”
Sehnaoui reiterated that the telecoms and information ministries were finalising preparations to launch the country’s first “Smart Media City” in the Dikwaneh suburb of Beirut.
The Telecoms Ministry had provided the information ministry with land in Dikwaneh to build the media city, Lebanon's National News Agency reported in late March.
Sehnaoui said improvements to telecoms infrastructure completed by his ministry during the last nine months would help the country to transform into a regional centre of media activities.
He said television stations are now capable of utilising a satellite broadcasting station located in Metn.
“Local and international TV stations are now able to broadcast their programs from Lebanon’s satellite station in Jouret al-Balout,” Sehnaoui said, adding that the government has been considering cutting broadcasters’ subscription by half.
Sehnaoui also called on ARABSAT to cut fees and broadcast prices in a bid to attract additional investments in the media sector.
“We also call on [ARABSAT] to add a second broadcasting unit in the Jouret al-Balout station to accommodate the additional demand on television broadcasting,” he added.
Sehnaoui argued that Arab television networks should book backup broadcasting waves at the station to prevent jamming.
“There is continuous jamming [on ARABSAT broadcasting], which is causing significant losses for regional TV stations,” Sehnaoui said.
Many Arab television stations experienced jamming during their coverage of the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria last year.
In February, Sehnaoui said that preliminary investigations suggested that the jamming problems originatedin Ethiopia. He then called on ARABSAT’s operator to secure additional frequencies for transmission from the Jouret al-Balout station. Sehnaoui’s statement was followed by a closed session of ARABSAT board.According to a statement issued by the organisation, participants discussed the organization 2011 revenues and have appointed new members to its board.
The statement said ARABSAT has recently completed service setup of a number of fourth generation satellites, which have reached full capacity in all of their orbital locations.
No further details were given about the meeting, which was attended by telecommunication ministers from various Arab countries.
ARABSAT is among leading satellite services provider in the MENA region. According to its website, it transmits some 400 television channels and 160 radio stations.
The organisation covers 80 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Central Asia.