United Cable Lebanon (UCL) , one of the biggest digital cable operators, shut down all Al-Jazeera channels to protest Al-Jazeera’s demands for the additional fee.
Al-Jazeera TV channels in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Kesrouan and the north were replaced by a note broadcasted by a group of cable providers.
“We apologize to our viewers for ending the broadcast of Al-Jazeera channels … the decision was made as a result of warnings issued by Al-Jazeera to cable providers in Lebanon to impose additional chargers on viewers,” said the note.
“Al-Jazeera has called for a charge of $1.50 from every cable subscriber in the country [who receives their channels] in addition to the monthly charge for their cable … Customers cannot pay such an amount of money to watch Al-Jazeera,” said one cable provider in Ashrafieh.
Suleiman Farah, a board member of UCL, said the company is willing to pay fees to Al-Jazeera, but he argued that the fees should be consistent with the financial capacity of the Lebanese.
According to Farah, broadcast rights are being exploited by businessmen who have been making deals with the foreign satellite companies to exploit the Lebanese market.
Farah said the Lebanese government should have a role in the pricing of foreign licenses in the country. “I don’t think it is reasonable that Iraq pays $1 million, while Lebanon pays $5 million for the OSN,” he added.