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Christian Satellite Channel faces disruption of programming as violent forces close roads and airport in Lebanon

ICC Note

The violence in Lebanon is affecting the broadcasting of Christian Satellite Channel for millions of kids in the Middle East .

By Michael Ireland

05/09/2008 Lebanon (ANS) — Anti-government forces have seized control of the main road leading to the Beirut airport, sparking street clashes and closure of the airport.

The violence is affecting SAT-7 staff members who have been trapped in and out of Beirut , and inspirational broadcasting to more than 100 million kids in the Middle East may be disrupted if roads don’t reopen soon.

“We are very concerned for our staff in Beirut ,” says Terence Ascott, SAT-7 CEO. “Our Programming Director cannot leave Lebanon and one of our key Lebanese producers is stuck in Cairo and cannot return home to her family.”

The morale of the team in Lebanon – about 20 full-time staff and several freelancers – is very low. “Everyone is worried about what will happen,” says Naji Daoud, SAT-7 Lebanon director. “The situation is really very serious and seems to be escalating with one force retaliating against the other. No one knows how it will end.”

In addition to the effect on SAT-7 staff members, the closure of the airport could impact broadcast of the SAT-7 KIDS channel. SAT-7 KIDS programs are taped daily in Lebanon and then shipped to Europe for broadcast. If the airport remains closed, it may prevent the team from shipping the tapes. Other daily programs for youth and women are also made in Lebanon and could be disrupted. The sea port remains open, but the main road out of the country through Syria has been closed and only a secondary road remains open.

“We do have several back-up plans in place should the airport remain closed,” says David Harder, SAT-7 communications manager. “We can receive KIDS programs from Egypt and assemble them here in Cyprus , so the channel’s broadcasts will not be interrupted, but we may not have access to some of our newest programs, which are being created in Lebanon .”

In addition, delivery of a satellite uplink dish that will enable the Lebanon team to send its programs directly to the satellite from their studios has been delayed. “We had hoped to have that dish in place by now. The dish is scheduled to be shipped at the end of May. We ask that people urgently pray that the dish would arrive safely in Beirut ,” adds Harder.

More than 100 million children under the age of 15 live in the Arab world and more than half have access to satellite television channels. Children can watch SAT-7 Kids any time that is convenient for them, across the five time zones in the Arab world.

Launched in 1996, SAT-7 is a Christian television service created by and for the people of the Middle East and North Africa with U.S. headquarters in Easton , Md. Each week between 9 and 10 million people tune in (Intermedia research, 2004 – 2006). Broadcast in three language – Arabic, Farsi and Turkish – SAT-7 can be viewed via satellite in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, much of Central Asia and worldwide at .