Bahrain Fade

Satellite signal blocked by your oppressive government? Get the app.

The camel load, via BBC News

Rim Abdolah delivers her news bulletin with admirable gusto for a woman who knows hardly any of the target audience is watching.

The Lualua TV presenter has been with the station since its launch in July.

Aimed at people in Bahrain, it carries news and talk shows about the country.

But since its inception, it has only managed to reach to televisions in the Gulf kingdom for four hours – before the signal was blocked.

“As a broadcaster I’m very upset and frustrated because we try to work hard to put our work out to let everyone see it, especially in Bahrain,” Miss Abdolah says.

“But it’s very disappointing, no-one in Bahrain can see us.”

Reports from the satellite provider show the signal is being blocked from within Bahrain.

While not officially blaming the country’s government, station management say it is hard to see who else would intervene.

Miss Abdolah’s pink headscarf stands out brightly against the blue backdrop of the news studio.

And while it was intended to run the channel from Bahrain’s capital Manama, it failed to get a licence there.

So instead, it operates thousands of miles from the Gulf, in a two-storey industrial unit on a drab north London estate – with cables running through the front door to a satellite dish in the car park.

Bahrain protest The station was formed in the aftermath of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain

Several people were killed in clashes with security forces, while hundreds of people were detained including doctors, teachers and opposition leaders – many of whom allege they have been tortured and now face military trials.

Thousands of demonstrators had gathered for several days in the centre of Manama, inspired by the popular uprisings which toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

They demanded a greater say in government and an end to what the majority Shias said was systematic discrimination against them in jobs and services.

Lualua TV is named after the roundabout where the protesters had gathered and its logo is an image of the structure that sat on that roundabout until it was destroyed after the protests.

Station manager Yasser Al-Sayegh says the station aims to promote peace in Bahrain and champion the causes of democracy and freedom of expression.

“We are genuinely independent, we class ourselves as independent but unfortunately the Bahrain government classes us as an opposition because we don’t show what state-owned TV shows,” he says.

“We listen to the Bahraini authorities and we listen to the opposition. We have direct contact with people on the ground in Bahrain, journalists, doctors – and we have talks shows where they can talk, and they don’t have that on Bahraini TV.”

Too bad there’s no app for rain fade.


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