Bahraini paper faces legal action over fire report
Manama, March 31, 2014
Legal action could be taken against a Bahraini newspaper for its coverage of a fire at the Information Affairs Authority (IAA), in Isa Town, last week.
The fire broke out on Monday and caused damage worth around BD150,000 ($388,651), said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, the Arabic daily claimed the building that caught fire was abandoned, lacked basic safety and security equipment and questioned the recruitment of an adviser who it claimed was former chief executive at the Hizbollah-backed channel Al Manar.
However, Minister of State for Information Affairs and official government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab yesterday said the front-page article in Al Ayam was "regretfully misleading".
The newspaper also criticised the company chosen by the IAA to operate a private channel in the building.
"The newspaper's targeting of the IAA is regretfully misleading and an exaggeration that puts the coverage on the same level as 'yellow' papers," said Rajab.
"Building a story on anonymous sources from social media, which has hundreds of fictional and suspicious accounts, is unprofessional and lacks the basic guidelines of proper reporting - which require calling officials concerned to get proper information.
"The newspaper said smoke was seen in Manama and the fire was a mystery, but in fact it was not seen in Manama and is not a mystery as the Interior Ministry, which reacted promptly to stop it from spreading, has determined it was caused by a short circuit.
"The building is not abandoned, there is no abandoned building at the IAA, and employees have been moved out because workers are carrying out a revamp on the 20-year-old building for a new channel that will be part of our network."
Referring to the Lebanese adviser singled out by the newspaper, Rajab said he had been instrumental in developing a news centre over the past 10 years.
"Several ministers have come and gone and he remained because his work is outstanding, which is reflected in the quality of news we are now having," she said.
"The private company has been hired through a tender that follows Bahrain's bidding procedures and has nothing to do with the new channel or the building."
She said the newspaper could still be taken to court over the article.
"We are studying legal action against the newspaper," she said. - TradeArabia News Service