Page last updated at 22:44 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Saddam TV channel drops off air three days after launch

Saddam Hussein on trial
Saddam Hussein was executed on 30 December 2006

A mysterious TV channel dedicated to ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has dropped off air three days after its launch on Arab satellite networks.

It began broadcasting on the third anniversary, by the Islamic calendar, of the former president's execution.

It is not clear who is behind the channel, which broadcasts the speeches, images and even poetry of Saddam Hussein, backed with patriotic music.

Some analysts suspect his former political supporters of bankrolling it.

Saddam Hussein's family and some exiled members of the Baath party he once headed have denied any connection to it.

'Technology upgrade'

The Associated Press news agency interviewed a man called Mohammed Jarboua, who claimed to be the channel's chairman, in the Syrian capital, Damascus. His claim cannot be verified.

He told AP the channel had been suspended to allow a technology upgrade, and that it would resume broadcasting by the weekend.

The "al-Arab" channel, dubbed "Saddam TV" in Iraq, first appeared on Bahrain-based Noorsat and Egypt-owned NileSat on Friday and was also being streamed on the Internet.

An Iraqi member of parliament, Jaber Habib Jaber, condemned what he called the channel's "glorification of a tyrant".

One Baghdad resident told the BBC the Saddam channel had become his favourite, even though watching it saddened him for evoking memories of when Iraq was safe.

But the BBC's Natalia Antelava in Baghdad says that many in the city were indifferent to the channel.

It comes as Iraqi authorities gear up for parliamentary elections scheduled for January 2010.

Saddam Hussein was ousted from power during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, after more than two decades in power.

He was later captured, tried and executed in December 2006.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific