Al Jazeera under fire for Houthi bias after KSA missile attack

Damage created by debris is seen, after ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Houthi militia fell at a house in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 March 2018

Al Jazeera under fire for Houthi bias after KSA missile attack

JEDDAH: The Qatari news network Al Jazeera has prompted a Twitter storm over its coverage of a ballistic missile attack targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia that was launched by Houthi militias in Yemen.
Seven ballistic missiles were fired targeting several cities in Saudi Arabia, three of which were intercepted by the Saudi Defense Patriot systems over the capital Riyadh. The rest were shot down in the skies of Jazan, Najran and Khamis Mushait. The missiles were fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen on Sunday night, the Arab coalition said, leaving one Egyptian civilian dead and two others injured.
The attack prompted widespread condemnation from the UN, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Pakistan and others.
Al Jazeera was, however, accused of providing a “platform” for the Houthi militias, having aired comments by the group just “minutes” after the attack.
The network’s breaking news service claimed that the missiles fired at Saudi Arabia hit their targets, despite statements by the Kingdom confirming that the missiles were destroyed by Saudi air defenses.
Al Jazeera also carried statements by Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, in footage shot before the attack, in which he threatened to use advanced missile systems and aircraft against Saudi Arabia.
Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti, a spokesman for the Houthis, told Al Jazeera that the attack was in “response to the bombing of Yemeni cities, and siege of the Yemeni people.”
Al-Bukhaiti called on the Yemeni people to mobilize against “the Saudi aggression.”
Many Twitter users were critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the attack, with an Arabic hashtag, translating as “Qatar media support Houthi,” trending.
“The coordination between the Houthis and Al Jazeera is clear and revealing, and the role of Qatar in funding the Houthis is known. So, their betrayal of the alliance in Yemen is remarkable and their days are numbered,” wrote one.
Another Twitter user said that Al Jazeera and the Qatari media in general “has become an integral part of the Iranian media, but this is not surprising, as they are known to provoke sedition and host terrorists on its channels."
It is not the first time that Al Jazeera Arabic has been accused of providing a platform for militant and terror groups.
Earlier this month it came under fire for “normalizing terrorism” in its coverage of an attack on the French Embassy in Burkina Faso.
Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global, a management consultancy focused on the Middle East, claimed Al Jazeera reporting on the Burkina Faso terrorist attack was skewed.
“Al Jazeera Arabic . . . refuses to call Al-Qaeda ‘terrorists,’ instead says ‘whom authorities describe as terrorists,’” he tweeted. “Common with Al Jazeera normalizing terrorism in eyes of its readers.”
Al Jazeera declined to comment when contacted by Arab News.


MBC hires Marc Antoine d’Halluin as new CEO

Updated 10 December 2019

MBC hires Marc Antoine d’Halluin as new CEO

  • Appointment comes as Saudi-owned broadcaster launches video-on-demand “Shahid” platform

LONDON: Saudi-owned broadcaster MBC has hired Marc Antoine d’Halluin as its new CEO following the departure of veteran broadcaster Sam Barnett.

MBC founder Waleed Al-Ibrahim said his new CEO would drive forward the company’s five-year growth plan announced last year and which has a heavy emphasis on developing video on demand (VOD) content.

D’Halluin started his career at Sony Pictures Entertainment and prior to joining MBC Group was the chairman of the Luxembourg-based M7 Group, which operates satellite pay TV in Holland, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. M7 Group was recently sold to Vivendi’s Canal+ Group.

Regional broadcasters including MBC are facing increasing competition from new arrivals to the region in the rapidly growing video on demand sector, dominated by Netflix and Amazon.

In response, MBC Group is ramping up investment in its own Arabic-language VOD platform while also targeting the Arab-speaking diaspora.

FASTFACT

MBC was the first private free-to-air Arab satellite TV channel.

Subscription video on demand is expected to more than double in the Middle East and North Africa between 2018 and 2024, according to Digital TV Research. 

Last month, MBC’s VOD platform, known as “Shahid” announced the launch of its first-ever original production. Titled “ElDiva,” the drama series stars Cyrine Abdel Nour in the lead role, alongside actor Yacob Alfarhan, and the Egyptian folk singer and actress, Bosy. 

“MBC was the first major media company in the region to launch a VOD platform,” said Shahid managing director Johannes Larcher at the time of the launch

“Nearly all the international giants of entertainment have turned or are turning their attention to this type of ‘digital first’ content.”

MBC Group originally launched in London in 1991 as the first private free-to-air Arab satellite TV channel and moved to Dubai in 2002. Today it includes a number of leading channels that include the 24-hour Arabic news channel Al Arabiya.