Lebanon News

Lebanon TV channels to adopt common newscast supporting Gaza

Smokes rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 18, 2014. (REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

BEIRUT: In a surprising precedent for the highly partisan local media, all Lebanese TV channels will adopt a common report for their newscasts Saturday to voice solidarity with Gaza against the Israeli offensive.

“It is simply an attempt to express, through our visual media channels, the Lebanese people’s solidarity with the people of Gaza, who live under a cruel siege and whose innocent civilians are being killed every day,” As-Safir newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Talal Salman told The Daily Star by phone Friday. Salman, who was behind launching the initiative, expressed his gratitude for Lebanese TV stations’ cooperation.

“All TVs were supportive, and this is surely something to praise,” he said. “Since we can do almost nothing for the Palestinian people, we decided to show full solidarity regardless of any political discussions.”

Pierre Daher, the chair of the board of directors of LBCI television station, told The Daily Star that every TV channel would prepare its own report and a combination would then be broadcasted.

“It will be around 25 minutes of common air,” Daher said, stressing that technical difficulties might postpone the common newscast from Saturday until Monday, depending on what the channels agree on in a scheduled Friday night meeting.

As for the report’s introduction, Salman said that it didn’t matter who authored it.

“I might be writing an introduction, or maybe someone else will,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, what matters is to flag our common position alongside our brothers and sisters in Gaza.”

Salman criticized the Arab reactions to the Israeli offensive on Gaza, saying his initiative is “to challenge this silence and tell the Gazans that there are Arab people who stand by them.

“The Palestinians are left alone in the wind,” he said, “and some countries like Egypt are even contributing to the siege on Gaza and its people.”

“It may be that because we in Lebanon have previously suffered from Israeli wars, and because the 2006 war has not yet disappeared from our memories, that we cannot but empathize with the Palestinians,” he added.

Salman stressed that the step was merely “a moral position against oppression and cruelty, regardless of the stance toward the Palestinian internal politics and Hamas as the resisting group.”

Talal Makdessi, the chair of Tele Liban’s board of directors, echoed Salman, telling The Daily Star “the inhumane offensive is a clear attack on the civilian women and children of Gaza. I am not talking politics now; it’s a humanitarian crisis above all.”

Makdessi announced that the state-run channel would participate in the initiative, saying that “Tele Liban cannot but support any political or media unity of the different Lebanese groups.”

“It is called Tele Liban, because it is the Television of Lebanon, all Lebanon,” he said.

Information Minister Ramzi Joreige announced Thursday that he supported the initiative. “I was notified that the newscast is being produced, and that it will air Saturday night, and I asked Tele Liban to contribute to this plan that aims to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in face of crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli army,” he said.

Joreige praised Salman’s collaborative, saying that the newscast’s “echo will reach the whole world.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 19, 2014, on page 3.




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