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Media rights group claims Arab media charter limits freedom

[JURIST] The adoption of a media charter by the council of Arab information ministers is an attempt to take away what limited broadcast freedom private TV viewers enjoy, according to a statement [press release] text by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) [advocacy website] Saturday. Last week Arab governments adopted a satellite broadcasting charter which prohibits broadcasting material that undermines social peace, national unity, public order and general propriety, or that criticizes religions or defames political, national and religious leaders. If the policy is violated, the government can suspend or revoke the broadcaster's license. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon called the policy "an unacceptable move on the part of autocratic governments to rob viewers of the already small amount of broadcast freedom they have enjoyed on private television."

The popular Arab network Al Jazeera [media website] also challenged the charter saying it would pose a threat to independent reporting. In a statement issued Friday, Al Jazeera Director-General Wadah Khanfar said that "any code of ethics or governance for journalistic practices should emerge, and be governed, from within the profession and not be imposed externally by political institutions." Reuters has more. Al Jazeera has additional coverage.

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