The U.S. government has designated al-Manar TV a terrorist organization and says its programs incite violence. France has made a similar ruling after accusing the TV network of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group of anti-semitic and pro-violence commentaries.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says al-Manar TV has been placed on the department's terrorist list because its programs incite violence. He says it is a logical step, considering the U.S. government has already placed its parent organization Hezbollah, on the terrorist list.
"Their television arm, as anybody who watches it can tell you, serves to incite that kind of terrorist violence and therefore it's entirely logical if we view Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, which it is, that their propaganda activities through this television should be barred," he said. "It's not a question of freedom of speech, it's a question of incitement to violence. And, we don't see why here or anywhere else (a) terrorist organization should be allowed to spread its hatred and violence through the television airwaves."
Lebanon's ambassador to Washington has called the U.S. decision censorship.
State Department spokesman Boucher says placing al-Manar on the Terrorist Exclusion list means non-Americans associated with the television station, soliciting funds for al-Manar, or providing support for it will be barred from entering the United States. Those already in the country could be deported.
It is not clear if a private Iranian-language station based in California will be sanctioned for rebroadcasting al-Manar programs.
The U.S. action comes less than a week after France banned al-Manar from using a French satellite network for its European broadcasts. French authorities have accused the Hezbollah-backed TV of anti-semitic programming that incites violence and hatred.