A new Pan-Arab news channel backed by a billionaire Saudi prince stopped broadcasting from its base in Bahrain today, just hours after it went on the air and carried an interview with a prominent opposition activist. The Alarab television station said on its official Twitter feed that it halted coverage for "technical and administrative reasons" and hopes to be back on the air soon. The unexpected stoppage, apparently on the order of Bahraini authorities, came hours after Alarab surprised many viewers by featuring Bahraini opposition activist Khalil al-Marzooq as one of its first guests.
The media director at Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority told the official Bahrain News Agency that the channel would resume broadcasting once necessary procedures were completed. He did not give further details. Al-Marzooq, a former deputy Parliament speaker who's a senior member of al-Wefaq, the country's main Shiite political bloc, was cleared last year of allegations of instigating violence and having links to a protest group blamed for bombings. In December, Alarab's general manager told reporters that the network "will cover all views" and would not shy away from sensitive topics in Bahrain. (Read more Bahrain stories.)