Lebanon News

LBCI will not face punishment for interview with Israeli military commander

The National Audiovisual Media council and caretaker Information Minister Walid Daouk hold a meeting at the Information Ministry in Beirut, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: No disciplinary measures will be taken against a local TV station for conducting a report at an Israeli military base and interviewing a commander, officials said, after the station apologized for falling into a “trap.”

“We believe what happened was a violation, as we have previously said, as it is a promotion of the enemy,” head of the National Audiovisual Media Council Abdelhadi Mahfouz said Tuesday after a meeting at the Information Ministry.

“Punishment could have ensued, but all of us believe LBCI’s justification, and that it fell into an Israeli trap,” he said.

Mahfouz added that the decision did not exempt the station or any other news outlet from “exercising its responsibility” to avoid similar violations in the future.

Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that the Israeli army allowed an LBCI journalist onto its Ramat David Air Force Base in a bid to send Hezbollah a clear threat.

“A Lebanese network was given rare and unprecedented access to an Israeli air force base as part of a larger attempt to send Hezbollah a message,” the newspaper said.

According to the anonymous Israeli commander interviewed, Hezbollah has turned a couple of hundred villages in southern Lebanon into “munitions caches.”

The Israeli army “understands that the arrival of such strategic arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon will be what sparks the next war,” the commander added.

LBCI said in a statement that it had understood Israel was giving the interview in order to get a seat at the Geneva II Syrian peace conference.

“But LBCI acknowledges that it has really fallen into a trap set by the Israeli army through the preparation of the report, for the latter thought it could use the Lebanese TV station for its own purposes,” the statement said in an apology to its viewers.

The station relies on Palestinian production company Mid Media in Ramallah for its coverage in Haifa, Israel and the West Bank.

Mahfouz said that if LBCI had not issued an apology, it would have faced disciplinary action, possibly including the cessation of broadcasting for as long as three days.

“In any future incident, the council will not renew the license of the media outlets that incite sectarian strife and encourage the promotion of the Israeli enemy,” Mahfouz added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 29, 2014, on page 4.




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