Lebanese court decision leads to raid and closure of MTV

A Lebanese court on Wednesday, ordered the closure of the MTV television station, owned by a newly elected opposition parliamentarian, on charges of violating electoral law, reported Al Jazeera.

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  September 4, 2002

A Lebanese court on Wednesday, September 4, 2002, ordered the closure of a television station 'for good'. MTV or Murr TV which is owned by a newly elected opposition parliamentarian was raided and closed on charges of violating electoral law, reported Al Jazeera.

Lebanese security forces raided and closed MTV also referred to as Murr TV after the Publications Court ruled it had violated broadcast laws of Article 68 with its coverage of an election seen as a referendum on Syria's domination of Lebanon last June.

Article 68 bans any electoral publicity and MTV was accused of broadcasting footage to influence the election in favor of the station’s owner Gabriel Murr, who won the election. Gabriel Murr defeated his niece, Mirna Murr, in a close race.

Gabriel Murr is the son of Michel Murr who was the former Minister of Interior.

Al Jazeera reported that MTV television went off the air after security forces surrounded the building that houses the station and then pursued to raid its offices.

Al Jazeera broadcast footage of employees and supporters who had gathered outside the TV building in Beirut's neighborhood of Ashrafiyeh to denounce the closure decision.

Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi, denied knowledge of the closure decision and rejected the way in which the situation was handled was on the premises. Aridi denounced the closure and slammed the Lebanese security forces for their handling of the raid.

"The officer in charge says he is just following his orders," Aridi told reporters. "But I don't think there are orders to beat people and lock citizens in the building."

In August MTV was charged with disparaging Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and the army in a show on press freedom.

"It's because it (MTV) said to everyone "'Vote, fill out your registration cards, do your duty,'" Murr told Reuters, adding that security forces had told MTV employees to evacuate the station's headquarters. "It's a purely political decision. We'll carry out the order, but this isn't the measure of things. When this becomes a military state, then we'll understand," added Murr.

LBC, another Lebanese channel is also dealing with charges of inciting sectarian friction over its coverage of a Muslim office worker's killing of Christian colleagues at the end of July. LBC stopped broadcasting for 15 minutes in solidarity with its sister station.

Jihad Murr, a media tycoon started two of the most successful radio stations in Lebanon, and the Murr TV or MTV television station. Jihad Murr is also the first cousin of the powerful interior minister.

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