Sunday, October 11, 2009

Egypt-born Jew Saban 'may buy half of Al-Jazeera'

Haim Saban (The Tablet)

A rag-bag of blogs and media (far left, white-supremacist and Press TV) are all up in arms at the prospect of the
Power-Rangers mogul Haim Saban, an Egyptian-born Jew, buying 50 percent of the struggling satellite network Al-Jazeera from the Emir of Qatar. It's what Richard Silverstein calls 'an AIPAC wet dream'. Further proof, if proof were needed, that 'Arab Jews' like Saban are only acceptable when they are not also Zionists. After all, who in the Arab world would watch al-Jazeera if it were more sympathetic to Israel? Of course no-one seems to object to Saudi Arabia 's substantial stake in CNN (or to have noticed that the Gulf States are big advertisers on BBC News 24), and that Arab interests may just, just influence their editorial line.

Haaretz reports: Egyptian-born Jewish businessman Haim Saban is negotiating with Qatar's emir the purchase of 50 percent of the Al Jazeera television network, the independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Mesryoon reported earlier this week.

Saban was first reported to be negotiating the purchase of half the Doha -based network in 2004, after visiting the emirate with former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The media mogul, estimated to be worth more than $3 billion, brought the Power Rangers franchise to the Arab world and made a fortune out of developing and selling the Fox Family cable network together with News Corp. In Israel, Saban owns a controlling stake in Bezeq.

Read article in full

On the other hand, the whole story may be a hoax, says The Tablet:

"It’s an interesting idea—a Jewish half-ownership in the Arabic news network. Saban’s spokeswoman declined to comment one way or the other. But we’re a bit skeptical: If a huge media deal were in the offing, what are the odds that the story would be broken not by any of the media reporters who cover Saban and the TV business—either here and in the Emirates—but instead by an Egyptian site we’ve never heard of? (And one which, if our Google Translator steers us right, only launched last year, and looks more the Huffington Post than Wall Street Journal.) Plus, if Al Jazeera is losing money, as the story claims, is it really likely that the Qatari emir would turn to an Israeli billionaire for help? And why would Saban—the world’s 261st-richest person, according to Forbes, but also, as the single largest donor to the Democratic Party, an extremely politically astute individual—want to invite the kinds of headaches that would be involved in taking on this particularly thorny, supposedly cash-strapped overseas enterprise? After all, if he wants another television channel he could just, like, buy out Al Gore over at Current or something."

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