By Sami Zaptia
Tripoli, 18 October 2014:
After carrying out test transmissions for a couple of weeks, the official state TV channel Al-Wataniya . . .[restrict]re-launched its broadcasts from Al-Beida on Friday.
The channel is now transmitting on the new frequency of 11353 -V -27500 on Nilesat (although Libya Herald has found the channel on frequency 11355).
This will be the first time that the legitimate Libyan authorities in the form of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) and their Al-Beida-based Abdullah Thinni government have had an official satellite TV channel since the Al-Wataniya station Tripoli headquarters were forcefully taken over by the Tripoli-based opposition Libya Dawn forces on 4 August.
To mark the re-launch, the channel interviewed the Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni.
In his opening remarks, Thinni took time out to acknowledge the role of the media in Libya’s current political and military battle. He thanked the loyal youth of the newly re-launched Al-Wataniya channel for their excellent work in preparing the channel in such a short period of time. This showed the extent of their interest and their devotion and their sense of responsibility and shows the extent of the exposure of Libya to danger at this serious stage, he added.
“The media is a very dangerous weapon”, he stressed and, “therefore, we must harness this weapon in the service of our cause and in raising the awareness of Libyan citizens as to what is happening and in explaining the truth to them”, he explained.
The takeover of the two state TV channels Al-Rasmiya and Al-Wataniya in Tripoli by Libya Dawn forces on 4 August meant that the HoR was deprived of any official TV coverage of its opening sessions in Tobruk on that day. Instead, the HoR had to rely entirely on the goodwill and coverage of privately owned TV channels such as Al-Assema and Libya Awalan.
The Tripoli based Al-Assema was subsequently bombed on 20 August and has ceased transmissions since then.
As a result of the loss of control over its two main TV channels, on 19 August the legitimate government and HoR asked the operator of Nilesat to terminate the broadcasts from its two channels based in Tripoli.
In justifying its termination of transmissions, the government said that the state owned channels were forcibly entered and their managing board were evicted and were taken over by one of the groups (militias) currently fighting in Tripoli.
These government owned channels were engaging in inciting and inflammatory broadcasts encouraging violence and hatred and were providing large amounts of airtime to personalities that were engaged in incitement, the government explained.
It is worth noting that in the meantime, the anti HoR Libya Dawn faction has also started broadcasting on a channel also called Al-Wataniya.