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While denying accusations that it jammed Al Jazeera Satellite Network’s signal during World Cup 2010 games, the Jordanian government has agreed to cooperate with an investigation into the claims, provided it is done by a team of independent experts.
The statement follows a story reported in the Guardian alleging that “secret documents” prove that Jordan deliberately jammed Al Jazeera’s broadcast of the World Cup games. The story backs Al Jazeera’s claims during the June games that Jordan was behind the broadcast interruptions.
Saturday’s Jordanian response, issued via Petra, the state’s official news agency, quotes an unnamed government source describing the charges as “absolutely baseless and unacceptable.” The statement also calls on Al Jazeera to present evidence of the allegations.
Al Jazeera has confirmed that it has conducted an “extensive investigation” by “multiple teams of independent international technology experts.”
The Middle East affairs editor of the Guardian backs the Network’s conclusions, telling Al Jazeera on Thursday that the documents used to report the story were “authentic and undeniable.”
“Experts say the jamming was unlikely to have been done without the knowledge of the Jordanian authorities,” the newspaper reported on Wednesday, pointing to Jordanian animosity toward Al Jazeera as the reason behind the interference.
Al Jazeera has revolutionised the Arabic-language media and reporting on the Middle East since its founding in 1996, but often at the expense of angering many Arab governments, including that of Jordan.
At the heart of the signal jamming incident is a deal between Al Jazeera and the Jordanian government, which failed just days before the June games.
“Four days before the kick off of the matches, Al Jazeera made an offer, demanding eight million dollars for the broadcast rights of 20 games of its choosing, and over 50,000 dollars for the broadcast on each screen that would have been placed in underprivileged areas,” and anonymous Jordanian official told AFP.
He said the Jordanian government declined the offer due to cost, and Al Jazeera, which had exclusive pay-TV rights to broadcast World Cup matches across the Middle East from North Africa to Iran, refused to broadcast the games to a select number of screens free of charge.
The signal interruptions frustrated millions of viewers across the Middle East and North Africa, who had to deal with pixelated, fuzzy images, blank screens and game commentary in wrong languages.