Thai company pulls plug on Hizbullah TV

THAICOM stops airing Al-Manar after learning from 'The Jerusalem Post' of its Hizbullah affiliation.

nasrallah al-manar 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
nasrallah al-manar 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A Thai satellite company said Wednesday it stopped airing broadcasts of the Al-Manar television channel after learning it was tied to Hizbullah, a company spokesman said. The broadcasts of Al-Manar were halted last Friday after just three days of a "test run" beamed through THAICOM satellites, said Piyanuch Sujpluem, a spokeswoman for Shin Satellite Public Company. Piyanuch said the contract with Al-Manar was a purely commercial deal "without knowledge that such a station had connections to a terrorist group." She said the deal was terminated after the company found out about the channel's background from foreign media. The US government in 2006 declared the station a "terrorist entity." Al-Manar could not be reached for comment. The Media Line, a nonprofit news group focused on Middle East coverage, and The Jerusalem Post reported last week that the THAICOM satellite was beaming the channel to Asia, Australia, the Middle East and most of Europe. The Jerusalem Post quoted the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel as saying the Thai satellites had "significantly boosted the resonance of Al-Manar's propaganda messages around the world after other satellites had stopped airing the channel." The center is a nongovernmental group tied to Israel's intelligence community. "We would like to confirm to you that we do not provide the ... Al-Manar TV Channel on any THAICOM satellites at the moment and will not do so in the future," Piyanuch told The Associated Press. Thailand is faced with a Muslim insurgency in its southernmost provinces, which has left more than 2,800 dead over the past four years. Authorities say the rebels are in part inspired by jihadist propaganda from the Middle East. Shin Satellite was once owned by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra whose sale in 2006 of the parent company, Shin Corp., to a Singapore state-owned investment firm sparked outrage in Thailand and contributed to his downfall. Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless military coup in September 2006.