Lebanon's NTV unplugged

Lebanon has banned an opposition television station from broadcasting news or political programmes for 48 hours over a report on a departing colleague that criticised top security officials.

    New Television (NTV) is critical of the Lebanese government

    The ban order on Tuesday from the information ministry accused New Television (NTV) of violating broadcast laws with a "subjective" report aired on Friday, when the station said presenter Dalia Ahmad was leaving. 

    "The terrestrial and satellite transmission of all newscasts and political programmes, live or otherwise...at New Television
    will be stopped from 1500 on Tuesday...to 1500 on Thursday," said the order, signed by Information Minister Michel Samaha. 

    In an earlier newscast NTV denied it had broken the law with its report, which accused the government of denying residency to Ahmad, who is Sudanese, and referred to Lebanon's security chief and Syria's military intelligence chief in Lebanon. 

    "What NTV aired last Friday about the colleague Dalia Ahmad does not stray from objectivity but dared to name certain people," the newsreader said. 

    "NTV, which is airing the decision and will abide by it, affirms its commitment to public freedoms and the political line it has become know for," the newsreader continued. 

    The station replaced newscasts with music on Tuesday. 

    Not the first time

    The ban was not the first time NTV, which is critical of the government, has run into trouble with Lebanese authorities. 

    They cut NTV's satellite link in June, halting the station's international transmission over a planned political show on the
    effect of the US-led war on Iraq on politics in Saudi Arabia. 

    NTV resumed international broadcasts days later, after it
    agreed not to air the programme. 

    The station's owner, Tahsin Khayyat, was detained overnight earlier this month after authorities said they had received information he had contacts with Israel and harmed the reputation of "friendly" countries. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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