Libyan rebels are preparing to launch a television channel, broadcasting from Qatar.
The channel, named simply Libya and calling itself "the new channel for all Free Libyans" had been scheduled to start transmissions this evening, according to local media reports, though it is unclear whether that deadline will be met.
There was frenzied activity this evening at the Doha compound here the channel is based. Qatari police prevented journalists approaching the offices where technical staff appeared to be working.
A spokesman for Libya's Interim National Council, the hastily formed western-backed rebel leadership body, said that the timing was ideal.
"This is the first time in recent history that the Arab world is willing to listen to the west," Mahmoud Shammam, a Washington-based exile, told the Guardian. "This is a good opportunity for the west to reconnect with the East. Up to now, the west has supported every Arab dictator."
Shammam said the channel would focus on the humanitarian issues across Libya and would aim to "have a correspondent in every ... city."
Staff were apparently recruited via Facebook over recent weeks. Hundreds of applications for fewer than 20 posts were received. One new recruit arrived without even a change of clothes, direct from the war-torn Libyan city of Ajdabiya.
Qatar, as well as agreeing to host the channel, has turned over the facilities and technical staff of a local network previously focused on cultural programming, the magazine said. The wealthy Gulf state, which has a population of 1.4 million, has strongly supported the coalition's military action in Libya, even sending its own warplanes to take part in operations.
Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based news channel, has played a leading role in the protests of recent months, while local analysts said the stance taken by the country's hereditary ruler, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, reflected the views of the Qatari public.
"Qataris were so happy to see our participation in removing the Libyan dictator Gaddafi who doesn't think twice before killing his own people," said Abdullah bin Hamad al-Athbah, a respected newspaper columnist in Doha. "Libya isn't similar to Iraq. We support the [UN security council] resolution all the way. We wish Arab states could handle the issue themselves but when it comes to reality this can't be done without UN intervention."
To start with, Libya TV aims to broadcast around four hours of original programming a day, including a 20-minute news bulletin and a half-hour talkshow. Foreign Policy reported that the channel was being funded primarily by donations from the Libyan disapora, including a single contribution of nearly £200,000 by a businessman living in the UK