Scope goes off air to keep the peace

KUWAIT: Informed sources yesterday said that there are several reasons why the private satellite station Scope has stopped broadcasting indefinitely. They said the TV channel’s owners realised there is great displeasure from ruling family members over what was broadcast on the “Zain wa Shain” (Good and Bad) program, which raked up old stories, and it is not justified to bring these up today unless there is something behind it. Fajr Al-Saeed, the owner of the channel and her brother Talal Al-Saeed, Scope’s
director and former MP, consider themselves part of the ruling family and therefore they do not want to offend them.On Sunday, a mob attacked the offices of Scope TV in Sharq after Talal allegedly insulted a branch of the ruling family, saying their forefathers had attempted to overthrow the government more than 50 years ago. The public prosecution yesterday questioned several members of the Al-Malik branch of the ruling family for their suspected involvement in the attack on Scope TV. The men were interrogated on charges of arson and firing shots which they strongly denied.

Sources said that the displeasure of the ruling family reached Fajr from the top and she felt embarrassed about it, pointing out that if the aggrieved parties in the ruling family sue the channel and its owners and claim large financial damages, it might exceed the ability of the owners. The sources said that the government emphasized it respects the press law, so it encouraged both parties (the channel owners and those who broke into its building) to resort to court without taking any party’s side, in spi
te of the government’s displeasure towards both parties.

That owners of the TV channel, on advice from higher authorities, decided the amicable solution to the problem they found themselves with the ruling family was to close the TV channel, especially since neither the ruling family nor the government has made a move against the channel. The sources said both parties abided by the law and resorted to the court to keep order, adding that the channel was a financial burden on its owners, and they were paying out of their pockets.

The sources said that Fajr was rankled by accusations that Scope TV receives financial support from parties in and outside Kuwait for achieving certain agendas and after what has happened, she found it wasn’t worthwhile to continue broadcasting. Moreover, she found herself in the crossfire of Kuwaiti politics and was accused of siding with certain parties in the ruling family at the expense of other parties, which made her convinced of the necessity to close the channel.

Meanwhile, the opposition Popular Action Bloc yesterday blamed the government over the drama involving Scope, saying it failed to implement the audio-visual law, thus encouraging violations. In a strong-worded statement, the bloc also slammed certain media outlets which have become tools in the hands of some government sides and were far from being responsible and free media. The bloc stressed that the rule of law represents one of the basic foundations of the democratic system and based on this concept, t
he bloc totally rejects any attempt by any group to take the law into its hands regardless of justifications or motives. Violating this rule will cause the spread of chaos in any country, the statement said.

At the same time, the bloc expressed its extreme indignation of attempts to undermine any individual, sect or group in the society which has become the norm of certain media outlets which have exceeded all limits, insulted the dignity of people and continuously degraded the constitutional system and accordingly, they do not deserve the honour of belonging to the media world. Based on this, the Popular Bloc held the government responsible by failing to apply the law, thus encouraging certain quarters to bre
ach the country’s laws.

The government has failed to apply the audio-visual law which would have checked the violations and revealed sources of finances for TV channels, said the bloc, adding that indications have surfaced that certain influential sides were patronising TV channels and newspapers which have become propaganda tools away from free media, the statement said. The bloc warned that the latest attack on Scope represents a very serious transformation and rings alarm bells that things may become chaotic in the country. It
called for the need to strongly apply the law to strengthen the rule of the law and the democratic system.

In another development, MP Ahmad Al-Saadoun yesterday criticized Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali for saying that the planned sale of 46 percent of Zain telecom was private money and their owners were free to do what they wanted. Saadoun said that the minister’s statement is totally incorrect because following the amendment of the public funds protection law in June, all Zain’s stocks became public funds since the state holds more than 25 percent of the company. Islamist MP Faisal Al-Mislem meanwhile su
bmitted a proposal calling on the communications ministry to force the three mobile operators to start calculating the cost of calls in seconds rather than minutes – Kuwaittimes