AmmanNet apologizes to its audience because of its absence against its will since Tuesday August 9th 2016. The government imposed block on our site was carried out on a flimsy reason about the site ownership. Such a decision to block a website by the Media Commission is a violation of Jordan’s constitution and international conventions which guarantee the freedom of the press and publication and makes it illegal to restrict any media without a court order.
The AmmanNet website has been restored as of Thursday August 18th and the site managers assure the public of our total commitment to the continuation of publishing information credibly, objectively and in a professional way. We will continue our enlightenment vision in the service of the public good and the service of our community no matter what the pressures are.
The official reason for the blocking of the site has to do with a legal interpretation by lawyers at the Media Commission which ruled that electronic newspapers like print newspapers must be totally owned by Jordanian citizens. Radio stations in Jordan can be owned by non Jordanians. Based on the recommendation of the previous head of the press and publications department Ammannet was licensed as the official website of Radio al Balad.
It is important to point out that during our efforts to restore our blocked website a number of governmental and regulatory parties has expressed its annoyance with some of what was published on the site recently especially some of the columns that were critical of the mufti and the decision to stop a radio program which dealt with the fatwa in regards to the issue of expressing condolences to members of different faiths. We in AmmanNet consider this to be a violation of the right to the freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the constitution.
Although the block of the website for a week has negatively affected our work and has denied our audience from our news and commentary we insist on our efforts to raise our voices for rights of our people and will continue on our professional media path.
We continue to reject the unfair clauses in the Press and Publications Law and we denounce the fact that the Media Commission has not respected the freedom of expression and the freedom of the internet as it was practiced against our blocked website and we see in the action illegal abuse in the carrying out of power.
We reserve our right to legally pursue the parties responsible for the blocking of our site which has caused us financial and moral damages.
While we denounce the week long block of our site we repeat our apology to our audience and would like to provide the following details that have occurred to our site since its establishment:
AmmanNet was launched on November 15th 2000 as the first Internet radio station under the sponsorship of the Amman Municipality and UNESCO.
In 2005 the Jordanian Audio Visual Commission issued a ten year FM license in the Amman area under the name AmmanNet radio on 92.4 FM.
In 2007 the name of the radio station was changed to Radio Balad and the website continued under the AmmanNet name.
In June 2013, Ammannet was one of 300 websites that was blocked by the Press and Publications department because of the refusal to apply for a website license. AmmanNet participated in public protests against the law and went to court in an attempt to reverse the decision but to no avail.
In April 2013 AmmanNet agreed to be licensed and was advised by Fayez Shawabkeh the head of the Press and Publications Department that it is best to be licensed as the official website of Radio al Balad and therefore the site was licensed as the official site of Radio al Balad.
After two years and as the Media Commission was established (as part of the merger of the Audio Visual Commission and the Press and Publications Department) a legal controversy was announced. Lawyers for the new Media Commission argued that Jordan’s Press & Publications Law stipulate that newspapers (whether in print or electronic) must be owned totally by Jordanians. And since Radio al Balad is not totally owned by Jordanians, the Media Commission asked that the ownership of AmmanNet be changed to a company wholly owned by Jordanians.
Legal and administrative discussions took place without any result.
Suddenly and without warning the AmmanNet website was blocked on Tuesday August 9th. It was later discovered that the Media Commission had blocked the site because of the ownership issue. No warning was made prior to the blocking decision.
We worked at rectifying the legal issue and moved the ownership issue from Radio al Balad to Community Media Network which is a wholly Jordanian owned not for profit company.
The block on the AmmanNet site was finally removed on the afternoon of August 18th 2016.
The original Arabic release can be seen here.