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Al-Jazeera Arabic Wants Canadian Censorship Lifted

Egyptians gather to watch the Al-Jazeera
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The CRTC has been asked to no longer compel domestic cable and satellite TV carriers to edit the Qatar-owned network for gory videos and abusive comments.

TORONTO - With Osama bin Laden no longer around to rail against the West, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV is lobbying for its controversial Arabic-language TV service to be freed from censorship in Canada.

Canadians currently have access to Al Jazeera English on their cable and satellite TV schedules.

But there's no option to view Al-Jazeera Arabic. 

The CRTC, Canada's TV regulator, in 2004 authorized the Arabic-language channel for carriage here, but ordered cablers and other content carriers to edit out violence or hateful messages as a condition of license.

Those restrictions, rarely imposed by the CRTC, followed objections from a raft of interest groups, including the Canadian Jewish Congress, which branded the Qatar-owned network as anti-Semitic and anti-American.

No Canadian cable or satellite TV operator has so far carried Al-Jazeera Arabic because of the expense, and bother, of editing the Arabic language channel round the clock.

The CRTC, which called for comments on Monday on the possible lifting of censorship restrictions on Al-Jazeera Arabic, said the Middle Eastern broadcaster noted in its regulatory application that 50 countries internationally, including the U.S. and Israel, carry the channel without restrictions on its distribution.