Brit Journalists Expelled From Bahrain for Formula One Coverage

8:13 AM PST 04/23/2012 by Scott Roxborough
Jun Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

The journalists were filming protests against the grand prix race held Sunday.

COLOGNE, Germany -- A group of journalists from Britain's Channel 4 News have been expelled from Bahrain for filming demonstrators protesting against the Formula One race held there this weekend and oppression by Bahrain's ruling royal family.

Bahrain authorities arrested the TV team while it was filming a demonstration Sunday. The three British journalists were held for nearly six hours before being deported to the U.K.

Bahrain had denied Channel 4 News entry into the country to cover the F1 race and the protests. Several other news outlets, including CNN, Reuters and the Financial Times, also were denied entry.

At least 50 people have died in street protests in Bahrain since February 2011. The demonstrations forced the cancellation of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, but organizers pushed ahead with this year's race, despite accusations of widespread human rights abuses by rulers of the tiny Gulf state.

Demonstrators say F1 organizers should not reward the country by letting it host an event that draws a worldwide TV audience of about 100 million.

The ruling al-Khalifa family paid millions for the privilege of hosting the Formula One event and has called the race a "force for good" that would unite Bahrain. Instead the race turned into a human rights and PR disaster and did little to suggest that calm is returning to Bahrain.

The protests and violence did not keep viewers away, however. Live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday delivered solid ratings for global broadcasters, with BBC1 averaging an audience of 3.6 million for a 20.2 percent share and the race pulling 2.8 million and a 36.5 percent share on Germany's RTL.

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