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Lebanese opposition leader launches new TV channel

BBC Monitoring

Text of report in English by Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post website on 21 July

    Opposition leader Michel Awn has launched his own television channel, OTV, hoping to set "new standards of objectivity" at a time when Lebanon is facing its most serious political crisis in years.

    OTV, short for Orange TV - the colour of Awn's Free Patriotic Movement political party - went on the air late Friday [20 July] with a news bulletin followed by a lengthy interview with Awn, a political leader who heads the largest Christian bloc in parliament.

    "We will strive to set new standards of objectivity," Dima Sadeq, an OTV news presenter, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "We will not be the voice for any particular political faction."

    "Even if we reflect the opposition's point of view, this will be done objectively," she added.

    Jean Aziz, in charge of the station's news and political programs, said during the first broadcast that there will be "no brainwashing" and "no lies" at OTV.

    The satellite channel will initially broadcast news bulletins and political programs six hours a day before going on the air with an expanded news and entertainment schedule in September.

    OTV, a privately-owned channel with more than 7,000 shareholders, will compete with a host of other Lebanese television stations, most of them owned or backed by politicians in Lebanon.

    The launch comes as Lebanon is suffering its worst internal crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war. The Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora is locked in a bitter power struggle with the opposition, led by Awn and the Iran and Syria-backed Hezbollah group.

    One of the opposition's key demands, rejected by Saniora, is the creation of a new national unity government in which it has veto power.

    OTV's launch comes two months ahead of Lebanon's presidential election scheduled for September 25. Awn, a former army commander and interim prime minister in 1988-89, is the only declared candidate to date for the election.

    Source: The Jerusalem Post website, Jerusalem, in English 21 Jul 07



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