ATV Managing Director Resigns

الأحد 23 أيلول 2007

By: Lina Ejeilat 

ATV Managing Director Mohannad Al-Khatib resigned from his position yesterday, and Ammon News reported that the channel’s owner and Chairman Mohammad Alayyan sold his shares to “Wonders Investment Company”, which is owned by Jordanians Mohammad Khaled Asfour and Mohammad Saleh Abdel-Ati.

7iber.com got a copy of Al-Khatib’s letter to ATV employees explaining his resignation. Below is a translation:

ATV MD Resigns

Dear Colleagues,

When I was offered a job with ATV during its establishing phase in late 2005, I had a lot of questions regarding this ambitious project. At first glance I didn’t take it seriously for a simple reason, that I wasn’t convinced our dear country is ready yet for such a project; an independent TV station that has a large space of freedom that enables it to work in a professional manner and attract a large segment of society that looks for a credible media outlet in a market dominated for long decades by official state television.

My colleague Mohammad Alayyan managed to convince me – because of the deep faith he himself had – that this project will be different in quality and content, and that there are reassurances from top authorities that the time has come for such a project, which will not succeed unless it was fundamentally different from what we were used to in our state media.

I became convinced that this project would work, and I became one of its most enthusiastic defenders in the face of those who mocked it and who said that the project would not see the light in the format I described to them. Sadly the past 53 days have proven how right those people were and how mistaken I was.

From the first moment our channel was prohibited from going on air 53 days ago, I did everything I could to deal with this issue through different channels, hoping to find a solution that would enable us to broadcast as soon as possible. I spoke to many official entities connected to the decision to stop our transmission; from the Audio Visual Commission, to the Telecom Regulatory Commission, to the Higher Media Council, the Media City, and many others. I tried in my communication with them to emphasize that the decision of the Audio Vision Commission is illogical and unjustified and entails mal intent towards the channel, as the commission was coming up with new requirements every day, starting with the issue of licenses and frequencies, and moving on to the terrestrial transmission issue and the agreement with JTV, and then finally requesting information about all the programs, their presenters, producers, and content, which in my opinion constitutes an interference in the channel’s content that is outside the mandate and jurisdiction of the commission and the authority it’s given. More important is that all those demands were lame and do not constitute a real reason to halt our station the way they did, which reflects short-sightedness and ignorance of the importance of media and its sensitive role.

Oftentimes I had to respond with a severe tone, the last of which was a letter addressed to the Audio Visual Commission on the 12th of September 2007, demanding that the case be taken to court according to item 26 in our signed agreement. This request was ignored by the commission, which shows disrespect to the Jordanian judicial system. On the same day I sent a letter to the Jordan Media City asking them to cancel our agreement, through which we reserve a frequency to transmit on Nile Sat. I had to take this step after I received a bill from the Media City of $72,000 for the past three months, which meant that the Media City is charging us for the halted transmission while at the same time refusing to receive our signal and transmit it to Nile Sat as per orders they received.

During that period I had issued many press statements that contained some sort of challenge to the authorities, in an attempt to draw attention to this issue that caused severe damage not only to this project but also and above all to the country’s reputation. Some of these statements were stopped by our chairman, especially the last statement in which I announced that ATV demands that the dispute with the Audio Visual Commission be sorted through the judicial system, alongside my decision to post some of our programs on the internet – a step deemed by many as a direct challenge to the authorities that were behind the decision to prevent our satellite transmission.

These decisions and steps which I considered part of my responsibility towards this institution and its employees apparently did not go well with the tedious negotiations that the chairman was carrying regarding the future of the institution – negotiations that I wasn’t clearly aware of.

The circumstances and work environment have changed drastically from what they were when I agreed to be part of this project. These changes happened, and continue to happen, without any contribution from me to determine the station’s formula or its direction taking and work plan. This makes it impossible for me to continue in my position, in a project that I never expected would come to this.

What happened to our dear TV station is a shameful moment in the history of Jordanian media, and its repercussions will last for a long time. The only positive side that I’ve experienced in this year and a half has been the opportunity to work with this group of very talented young people, a group that has proven that there is high caliber in our country capable of working very professionally when given the right environment.

I wished we could reap together the fruit of our hard work over the past long months, but for reasons beyond our control this hasn’t happened in my time with you. I was hoping that our pioneering project – as we planned it together – would create new standards for professional media work unprecedented in our dear country, but the big challenges we’ve had to face lately will make this difficult to achieve, at least in the near future.

I thank you for your great efforts to realize this project that I believed would change the face of media in Jordan for the better.

Wish you the best of luck

Mohannad