Jun 16 2008

Jordanian lower house sues Radio Al Balad

Published by at 5:41 pm under Uncategorized

Jordanian lower house sues Radio Al-Balad for “insulting” chamber

LENGTH: 405 words

Text of report in English by privately-owned Jordan Times newspaper on 5 March

[Report by Mohammad Ghazal: “Radio Al Balad banned from broadcasting Lower House sessions”]

AMMAN -The Lower House has filed a lawsuit against Radio Al Balad, formerly Ammannet, and banned it from broadcasting its sessions for allegedly insulting the chamber of deputies, House Secretary General Fayez Shawabkeh said.

“We prevented the radio’s correspondent from broadcasting last week after we discovered that the station insulted the Legislative Authority,” Shawabkeh told The Jordan Times.

According to the secretary general, several deputies complained to the Lower House General Secretariat when they learned that Radio Al Balad insulted the Lower House.

“We sent a letter to the Audiovisual Commission to see if any insult was aired by the radio station and received a reply from the commission confirming this fact,” Shawabkeh said.

Despite several attempts by The Jordan Times to contact them, officials at the commission did not return the calls.

Sawsan Zaidah, radio manager, said the station’s correspondent was prevented from broadcasting from its studio at the Lower House last Wednesday and was told that he will not be allowed to relay the session due to an insult to the House published on the station’s website.

Zaidah said a comment deemed “insulting” by the Lower House was discovered after checking the website’s archives.

The comment on an article published on January 29 was posted by a reader, she explained.

According to Zaidah, as of early January, the station started implementing a monitoring system on the website that filters comments.

“In the system, we have created a blacklist of words. If one of the words in the blacklist is in the comments, the system will not publish it. But the word that the Lower House sees as insulting was not on this blacklist,” she told The Jordan Times.

Zaidah added that there is a disclaimer on the station’s website clarifying that comments solely reflect readers’ opinions.

According to Yehya Shqeir, a media law expert, article 189 of the Penal Code imposes penalties on publications and media outlets that publish words or descriptions deemed insulting to the Parliament or its members.

If it is proven that the insult was published deliberately, the penalty ranges from one to six months in prison or a fine ranging between JD10-50, according to Shqeir.

Source: Jordan Times, Amman, in English 5 Mar 08

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