Launch of Saba TV channel is delayed

DUBAI — The launch of a Dubai-based satellite channel was delayed on Wednesday, after Iranian security agents allegedly tried to seize a video tape from the channel's production manager on board an Iranian airliner in Dubai, a top company executive told Khaleej Times yesterday.

By Zaigham Ali Mirza

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Published: Fri 23 Dec 2005, 11:04 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:25 PM

The satellite channel, Saba TV, is owned by Mehdi Karoubi, former speaker of Iranian parliament and a candidate in the presidential elections in June this year.

"Mahmoud Reyahi, the production manager (of Saba TV) was prevented by security agents (Iranian) from getting off the plane in Dubai..." Behrouz Afkhami, Managing Director of Saba TV and well known movie director and former reformist MP, speaking on phone from Teheran, told Khaleej Times. He added that the security agents wanted to seize the video tape Reyahi was carrying. According to Afkhami, the production manager called up Karoubi in Teheran who told him not to hand over the tape, and was later allowed to disembark from the aircraft.

The channel's launch, which was scheduled for 9.30pm yesterday, was further delayed following a technical problem, Afkhami said. "It's a weekend in Dubai so if we cannot solve the issue tonight, the launch may be postponed till Saturday or Sunday," he said.

The channel does not have any political inclination and will not be used as a tool for propaganda, Afkhami said.

"Our aim is to provide the viewers with objective and unbiased news... we will be completely neutral in our approach," he said.

According to him the channel will initially have daily broadcast of three hours, involving news, interviews and music, which the company hopes to increase to six hours in the near future. He noted that apart from the Middle East, the channel would be available in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Southern Russia, India and Africa, and some parts of Europe, but would be limited to those having satellite TV receivers in Iran. It will however not reach China and the Americas, he added.

"Our target audience is all those who speak and understand Persian...but we intend to provide English subtitles in a few months for the benefit of the non-Persian speaking viewers," Afkhami said.

Afkhami revealed that the channel would apply to the Iranian authority for permission to set up a Bureau in Teheran. "We will apply this Saturday or Sunday... we want to have a Teheran Bureau, and I hope it should work out."

Responding to a question about choosing Dubai as the base for the channel, Afkhami said that it was "closest to Iran,". Asked if the channel might run into trouble with the Iranian government, he said, "I hope not... I don't know."

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