Facing strong criticism, the Palestinian Authority government on Wednesday suspended its decision to close down several private TV and radio stations, including Al-Mahed TV, a Christian broadcaster in the Palestinian territories.
Last week the PA shut down the stations under the pretext that the owners had failed to pay fees to renew the licenses for their stations.
The PA’s crackdown on the private radio and TV stations drew strong condemnations from many local and international media organizations.
Samir Qumsia, owner and manager of Al-Mahed TV, condemned the decision to shut down his station, especially because it coincided with Christian holidays.
He said that despite the decision to suspend the closure, he would not resume broadcasts until the PA government apologized to him.
Qumsia said he has sent a letter to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad protesting against the closures.
The PA said it suspended the closures for one month to allow the owners time to sort out their debts and renew the licenses.
A spokeswoman for the PA government told The Jerusalem Post that
the PA Ministry of Communication has decided to close several
television and radio stations, including Al-Mahed TV, for technical
reasons, including not holding the appropriate license, not paying the
license fee, and not operating under the correct technical
specifications. She said the PA’s decision was not based on religious
or political consideration but was enforcement of the law and was part
of continuing efforts to organize the communication sector as part of
the state-building plan.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate welcomed the decision to reopen the stations.