BEIRUT: Local television channel Al Jadeed was recently blocked in several areas across the country, considered to be Hezbollah strongholds.
The decision by some cable TV distributers to cut the broadcasting of Al Jadeed was taken on Nov. 21 in areas of south Lebanon, Beirut's southern suburbs and in Baalbeck-Hermel.
Since the outbreak of nationwide protests on Oct. 17, Al Jadeed had opening news bulletins criticizing Hezbollah.
Following these incidents scores of people demonstrated outside the TV's headquarters in Beirut's Moseitbeh area and certain cable TV distributors subsequently stopped airing the station.
In response to this Karma Khayat, Al Jadeed's deputy head of news and political programs, last week questioned the motives behind the move. “Today there is a revolution and people are calling for their rights and for a civilized country,” she told LBCI last Thursday.
She added: “I direct my words to Hezbollah: Do they accept this decision ... and does this chime with Hezbollah's anti-corruption pledges.”
Many residents living in the areas where the channel was blocked welcomed the decision with some even calling for Al Jadeed to be blocked before the recent decision.
But there were others who were outraged and found ways to watch the channel via smart phones or through the internet. Al Jadeed took down a paywall and allowed residents to access the live web broadcast after the channel was blocked in several areas.
“This is not acceptable. It is like taking the people as hostages in these areas, preventing them from watching the channels they want to watch,” Nour Atwy, 24, who lives in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
Atwy says he has been participating in the uprising since the first day.
“It’s their typical way of accusing everything that does not match their views as being funded by the outside,” he said, in reference to accusations by Hezbollah's secretary-general that there was a foreign plot behind the protests.
He said that he has found a loophole to watch Al Jadeed. "It’s naive of them to think that they can ban the channel in this age of technology,” he added.
Hussein Ali Hassan, 27, said that he "loves" Al Jadeed. Hassan, an employee at a gym in Beirut's southern suburbs, supports the protests and the demands of the protesters due to the poor economic situation in the country. But, he says, “I am against how Al Jadeed is being biased for the protests and is instigating tension between people.” Hassan was referring to an alleged anti-Hezbollah and anti-Amal Movement stance throughout the protests.
“But despite my concerns, I am against blocking the channel in my area and I wish Al Jadeed would go back to its pro-resistance stances,” Hassan said. Hezbollah is often referred to as the resistance against Israel.
Meanwhile, on Monday, LBCI, MTV and OTV cut its frequencies from all cable companies that decided to block Al Jadeed, in solidarity with the general freedom of press.