"Our grouping held a meeting on Saturday and we decided to stop the distribution of TV5 in solidarity with al-Manar," Ihab Samir, co-owner of LTV cable in the Ras al-Nabah central residential neighbourhood said.
 
He said the grouping, made up of the "the distributors of cable services," took the decision "to halt TV5 in Beirut as a first step, as we are making contacts with other companies in other Lebanese regions."

"Cable distributors in other regions are to join the movement by the weekend," he said.

An official at Byblos cable company in the seafront al-Rawsha residential neighbourhood confirmed that "the owners of cable companies in Beirut took the decision on Saturday to halt TV5 in solidarity with al-Manar."

In al-Ashrafiya, a Christian-dominant neighbourhood east of the capital, cable operators said they would not join the action because their clients were largely francophone.

US ruling

Cable distributors in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a main Hizb Allah stronghold, and in main cities in the south of the country said that they were open to join the halt, but had not been informed of the action yet.

Al-Manar was dropped from French-based Eutelsat's broadcasts on Tuesday after a Paris court found it guilty of being anti-Jewish.

On Friday, French-owned satellite carrier GlobeCast removed al-Manar from US airwaves after the state department announced it had added the channel to its list of suspected terrorist organisations that face sanctions.

Lebanon warned on Saturday that it was considering reprisal measures against French and US media.

The French public television TV5 continues to be re-broadcast on Lebanese state media outlets.