May 19, 2011 / 1:44 PM / 9 years ago

Libyan rebel TV channel trying to reach more people

* Rebel channel hopes to counter Gaddafi-controlled media

* Channel uses Qatari infrastructure

DUBAI, May 19 (Reuters) - Rebels fighting to overthrow Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi have launched a television channel to promote their cause, but part of their broadcast is blocked by a regional satellite, a rebel media official said on Thursday.

“Libya for the Free” was created in March to offer an alternative to state-controlled Libyan television, said Mahmoud Shammam, in charge of media and information affairs at the rebel Transitional National Council.

“Our goal is to reach the largest number possible of people inside and outside Libya in order to counter Gaddafi’s channels which are engaged in psychological and media warfare against the rebels,” Shammam said on the sidelines of a media conference in the United Arab Emirates.

He said the Qatar-based channel is now broadcasting through satellites including Hot Bird, operated by Eutelsat Communications SA (ETL.PA), and the Arab League’s Arabsat.

But Egyptian-owned satellite company Nilesat has prevented them from broadcasting, he said. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.

“We had paid the full fees but when we inquired the company said the decision to suspend the broadcast was a political one.”

“The phone calls and email we receive from fans prove that we have decent viewership inside Libya, but that could be expanded if we have access to Nilesat satellite,” Shammam said.

Earlier this year, Nilesat also jammed the signal of the Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera during mass protests that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Shammam said that the channel was based in Doha but had no connection to the Al Jazeera Network which is also based there. “The channel’s infrastructure is Qatari, otherwise we depend on our own capabilities,” he said. (Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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