The suspension from the Television and Radio Broadcasting Services PTY LTD (TARBS) came last week, in response to an investigation opened by the country’s broadcasting watchdog last October.
The inquiry initiated by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) is looking into whether the station has breached the criminal code act.
“The material we viewed was of sufficient concern for us to commence an official investigation,” a spokesperson for the authority told reporters.
But al-Manar says the show must go on.
“We are looking for other alternatives that might be a bit costly but we will not deprive our Australian audience from the service,” al-Manar’s head of foreign news Ibrahim al-Musawai told Aljazeera.net.
“We are even thinking of broadcasting from a different satellite,” he said adding that they are still negotiating with TARBS.
Chief editor of the Australian-based the Arabic Telegraph, Antwan al-Qizzi agrees the decision is not based on the channel’s material.
“I believe the decision is a pure political one and has nothing to do with the content,” al-Qizzi told Aljazeera.net.
The resistance group was banned
“This move stems from the Australian government’s earlier banning of the Hizb Allah organisation,” he added.
In June Australia banned the Lebanese group as Australian intelligence has linked it to “terrorist activities”.
The chief editor believes the government’s scrutiny of Hizb Allah’s media outlet is due to “external pressures”.
“The decision is influenced by the overall global media domination which is mainly controlled by the Americans and the Israelis.”
Al-Manar is one of 10 Arabic channels available in Australia via subscription.
Hailing the investigation
Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia Israeli Jewish Affairs Council is satisfied with the Australian’s broadcast authority’s inquiry.
“Al-Manar is basically a propaganda tool for Hizb Allah, spreading terrorist incitement about its fight against Israel and, more recently, the US actions in Iraq,” said Rubenstein in a statement.
“The channel glorifies suicide bombings and demonises the West. Perhaps even worse, al-Manar’s web site provides contact details for donations to Hizb Allah,” he added.
Rubenstein primarily critised al-Manar’s TV programme al-Shatat, Arabic for Diaspora, currently running on the channel. “The potential for a programme such as this to stir up violent anti-Semitism among those predisposed to believe it to be true is obvious.”
But al-Qizzi believes otherwise. “The show presents historical accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has nothing to do with terrorism. Look at all the programmes and channels out there, many incite violence and terror.”
The 26-episode show, which began broadcasting on the channel on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan is based on a document entitled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The document has been largely discredited as a forgery.
The US State department has contacted the governments of Syria and Lebanon over The Diaspora saying it is “anti-semitic”. Al-Manar announced it will continue broadcasting the show in spite of the criticism.