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British media watchdog accused of giving Al Jazeera ‘global credibility’

LONDON: Ofcom, the British broadcasting regulator, has been accused of giving “global credibility” to Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language news channel.
In a letter to the media watchdog, the UK-based ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain complained about Al Jazeera’s Arabic service, which is available in millions of homes across the country.
They argued that by sanctioning Al Jazeera’s English-language service, Ofcom was granting “global credibility” to its Arabic-language channel, which they said was “undoubtedly sympathetic” toward Daesh, according to a report in The Times newspaper.
The letter reportedly argued that Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel benefits from Al Jazeera English’s credibility by association, despite the fact that Al Jazeera Arabic is not licensed or currently regulated in the UK. The letter highlighted that Daesh was referred to as an “organization” rather than a terrorist group by the channel.
Ofcom said there was little it could do, as the Arabic channel was not licensed in the UK, but they had passed on the letter to the relevant authority in Italy, where the channel does hold a license.
“Al Jazeera Arabic is not licensed in the UK, so is not subject to our broadcasting rules,” an Ofcom spokesperson told Arab News.
“But we have passed this letter of complaint to the media regulator in Italy, where the channel holds a license, for urgent consideration.”
The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE — broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June, with the closure of Al Jazeera being one of the ATQ’s 13 demands of Doha in the days immediately after the start of the rift.
Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment.