In a sweeping action against television and radio broadcasters who had purportedly failed to renew their licenses, the Palestinian Authority (PA) shut down Bethlehem-based Al-Mahed (Nativity) TV, the last Christian television station in the Palestinian-controlled territories. Al- Mahed and several other stations had been broadcasting for over a decade before the PA suddenly decided they were not authorized to do so.
Some members of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate slammed the move as a violation of freedom of the press, but their remarks were later removed from all reports on the matter.
The PA said the closure was a temporary one-month suspension aimed at giving the broadcasters time to “sort out” their finances and pay for the proper permits. But the closures bore the hallmarks of attempting to control media outlets that do not always toe the line of the ruling regime.
The Palestinian Authority, under heavy international scrutiny, eventually permitted the stations to reopen, but Al-Mahed owner and manager Samir Qumsia insisted he would not resume broadcasts until he received a public apology from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.