Lebanese media and their old ball and chain

It’s funny (or rather sad actually). On my way back from Beirut, I had started working on writing a post about the evolving media landscape in Lebanon and the middle east, based on my observations of Lebanese channels mostly and more specifically, an LBC program “ahmar bel khatt el aarid” (the red line), on which I witnessed a fully veiled woman, wearing the burqa, discussing on cable TV (across all Arab countries, notably), her sexual experience with her former husband, and more specifically the frustration she endured for years, because of the husband’s premature ejaculation problem, and his unwillingness to even discuss the issue throughout the years. She was reciting her story in the same casualness she would’ve discussed cooking recipes. I was really amazed (surprised), to see such an evolution of morals in Lebanon. I was naturally aware the evolution wasn’t as marking in other Arab countries but was pleasantly surprised to see this did not stop LBC from tackling such issues.

I had to abandon the article halfway through though, as new information emerged in the media.

Mazen Abdel Jawad, a Saudi citizen, was arrested a few days ago in Saudi, and is currently waiting for trial and sentence, on the basis of the interview he gave LBC and the “documentary” they shot about him, which was broadcast on that same show, and in which he “bragged” about his sexual exploits and Bluetooth pick-up techniques (In Saudi, as coed contact in public is absolutely prohibited, young people communicate from a distance in malls or other public places through the Bluetooth function of their mobile phones, in order to get potential “dates”).

Here’s the video (sorry for the lack of subtitles…)

Not only did the participant get sanctioned, a couple of days ago, Saudi minister of information, Abdel Rahman al-Hazzaa announced the utter closing down of LBC offices in Ryad as the broadcast was judged inacceptable.

Substantially, this doesn’t really change the core of the changing media landscape in Lebanon, however, for a station like LBC, which for years, has been sort of the most viewed Arab channel in the gulf and Arab countries, you can’t help but wonder, at which rate exactly is evolution going to take place?

When you know that most GCC (gulf cooperation council) countries-based channels, censor everything down to a kiss on the lips in any content they broadcast, and ban any channel on which they don’t have a right of censorship. When you know that on Arab subtitles of American movies, “Oh my God” is no longer translated as “Ya ilahi’ because it is judged “anti-religious” to be bringing up the divine’s name all too often, especially when it’s brought up by strippers, or loose cheerleaders, you can’t help but wonder, will our tendency to “open mindedness” and playing down the importance of taboo issues impose that same tendency on the rest, or are the Lebanese media constantly going to be dragging the weight of cultural and moral censure from neighboring countries…?

Just a thought…

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3 responses to “Lebanese media and their old ball and chain

  1. Incase the winner in this battle between hard-line forces v/s open minded forces comes in the intrest of the first party (which i think is most probable), not only will the show be a victim of this evolution, and LBCI as a matter of fact; the consequences will also affect all satellite channels viewed by these regimes as “open-minded”. This is time it will larger than a censored kiss or translation i can see…

  2. Hey Jessy, and thanks for your comment.
    You see, I don’t think this is exactly the kind of battle leading to a loser and a winner.
    The question is more the dilemma that the media will face between their own values and their (financial) need for the hundreds of millions of people constituting their audience in more conservative countries. Will pressures such as closing down LBC offices in Saudi achieve their goal of censoring its content in order for them to remain on the air? Or will it eventually cause them to definitively split the content of their broadcast between a Lebanese channel and a pan Arab one?
    I guess we should start to determine a tendency in the next few days (or weeks), based on what happens concerning the current issue

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