A leading Lebanese TV channel has cut short its flagship politics show over a perceived crackdown on media freedom.
LBC News cut off its normally one-hour Nharkom Saeed (meaning “Have a Good Day”) politics show after just seven minutes on Friday after the host Dima Sadek repeatedly sarcastically cautioned her guest – political analyst and blogger Imad Bazzi – that various topics were out of bounds.
Among the issues that she said they were not allowed to discuss were religious conflict in the country, the failures of the judiciary, President Michel Sleiman and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
In recent weeks, following the formation of the new government, a number of media publications in Lebanon have faced increasing political pressure over their coverage of various issues. A blogger, Jean Assy, was recently sentenced to two months in jail for insulting the president on Twitter, while Bassil is currently suing this publication over allegations of malpractice. Bazzi himself recently tweeted that he had been called in for interrogation by the “cyber crimes office” over a blogpost he wrote.
I got a call from cyber crimes office requesting me for interrogation tomorrow because of a blog post I published few months ago #Lebanon
— Imad Bazzi (@TrellaLB) March 12, 2014
At one point Sadek sarcastically implores Bazzi to be a “responsible journalist” and not discuss such controversial topics. After seven minutes, Bazzi agrees that there is nothing left to discuss and the show is called to a close. The screen then reads: “This is our screen image as they like it,” with the “they like it” crossed out in red and replaced by “we reject it.”
You can watch the whole video below (in Arabic).
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