February 1, 2011 / 7:42 PM / 9 years ago

Al Jazeera TV says signal jammed in Middle East

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera said its signal was being jammed in parts of the Middle East on Tuesday, days after Egypt shut the network’s operations in the country and an Egyptian satellite cut its broadcast signal.

“Signals on the Nilesat platform were cut, and frequencies on the Arabsat and Hotbird platforms were disrupted continually forcing millions of viewers across the Arab world to change satellite frequencies throughout the day,” Al Jazeera said in a statement, referring to a few of the geostationary satellites broadcasting across the region.

At least one million Egyptians took to the streets on Tuesday in scenes never before seen in the Arab nation’s modern history, roaring in unison for President Hosni Mubarak and his new government to quit.

“We have been working round the clock to make sure we are broadcasting on alternative frequencies. Clearly there are powers that do not want our important images pushing for democracy and reform to be seen by the public,” a Jazeera spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Al Jazeera’s coverage of political unrest in Egypt has been widely watched in the region, and the channel said on Tuesday a dozen smaller Arab networks had interrupted their own programmes to carry its signal.

“Over the past week the network has faced multiple attempts to disrupt their coverage from Egypt, with signals being interfered with on a continual basis, and journalists being banned and detained,” Al Jazeera said.

Egyptian authorities briefly detained six reporters from Al Jazeera English in Cairo on Monday, seizing one camera.

The news channel, which says it can reach 220 million households in more than 100 countries, had asked viewers to switch to Arabsat and Hotbird satellites after saying Egypt’s satellite Nilesat had cut off its signal.

Launched in Doha, Qatar, in 1996, Al Jazeera has more than 400 reporters in over 60 countries, according to its website.

Reporting by Firouz Sedarat in Dubai; Editing by Reed Stevenson

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