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Al Jazeera: World Cup broadcast was jammed from Jordan

By Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
Arab men smoke waterpipes as they watch a World Cup match at a coffee shop in Kuwait in June.
Arab men smoke waterpipes as they watch a World Cup match at a coffee shop in Kuwait in June.
  • Millions suffered frequent disruptions of the broadcast, says Al Jazeera
  • Accusation based on "teams of independent international technology experts"
  • Jordanian government denies the charge

(CNN) -- Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite TV network, claims its live broadcasts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup were jammed from a location inside Jordan.

"This resulted in millions of viewers throughout the Middle East and North Africa to [sic] suffer from frequent disruptions of the broadcast," Al Jazeera said Thursday. The global network said it based its accusation on the findings of "teams of independent international technology experts" who investigated the interruptions.

A Jordanian government source "categorically denied" Al Jazeera's claim and called it "absolutely baseless and unacceptable," according to a report by Jordan's official Petra News Agency.

An Al Jazeera spokesperson said: "This action targeted Al Jazeera and was intentionally designed to deprive millions of fans across the region from enjoying this global event. It is alarming that the source of the interruption is in fact from inside the Arab world, and we will be in touch with the Jordanian government to demand a full inquiry to uncover the details of this incident."

The Jordanian government source, quoted by Petra, responded: "The government is ready to cooperate with any team of independent experts to examine the facts, and is certain that any such examination will prove these allegations false."

Shawn Powers, assistant professor at Georgia State University and associate director for The Center for International Media Education, told CNN the technology required to carry out jamming of this type and scale is highly likely to have been owned by a government -- and used with the government's knowledge. According to Powers, Jordan's motivation for possibly interrupting Al Jazeera broadcasts could stem from the troubled history between Qatar and Jordan.

"It is a bigger deal than just a spat about soccer. It is a way to stop the rise of Qatar. Jordan and Qatar are competing nation states for influence in the region. By discrediting Al Jazeera -- that's good for them [Jordan] because it takes away a potent weapon of the Qatari government," Dr. Powers said.

Jordan fist took action against Al Jazeera in 1998 after the network accused the Jordanian government of conspiring with Israel against the Palestinian territories. Jordan reacted by shutting down Al Jazeera's bureau in Amman and recalling the Jordanian ambassador in Qatar. Similar spats have taken place with Jordan accusing Al Jazeera of excessive criticism of Jordan's King Abdullah and his government.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup was staged in South Africa in June and July.