News from Beirut January 7  1998 ...Search

Cabinet bans political satellite TV broadcasts

Cabinet today banned all private television stations from broadcasting news bulletins and political programs on satellite. After cabinet, Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa told reporters the government decided to ban private television stations from broadcasting news bulletins and political programs on satellite and this right will be only given to the state-run Tele Liban. Sabaa added private TV stations will have the choice to broad on satellite the news bulletin of the state-run televisions.

Only two private TV stations out five with licenses for local broadcasts used to have permission for satellite news broadcasting: one is Future Television and the other is the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International. Sabaa also told reporters the ban was made at prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri's request and followed recent broadcasts which posed problems by tarnishing the image of Lebanon abroad and harming its economic interests, thus its development projects and reconstruction drive.

Sabaa said any attempt to break the law will be subject to penalty. Cabinet also decided to boost the capacity of Tele Liban to enable it to handle satellite broadcasts. On the side-lines of cabinet's session today, the council of ministers decided on forming a ministerial committee in charge of carrying out further necessary discussions on the media file. The committee includes ministers Shawki Fakhouri, Bassem Sabaa, Mohsen Dalloul, Bahij Tabbara, Suleiman Franjieh, Akram Shhayyeb, Mahmoud Abu-Hamdan, and Elie Hobeika. Cabinet also called for activating the role of the National Audio-Visual Media Council and decided on developing and enhancing the situation of the Lebanese official radio station.

US delegtion expresses admiration at Lebanon's reconstruction drive

The US delegation of congressmen and businessmen today concluded their official visit to Lebanon. After a visit this morning to prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri, the delegation which includes Senators Porter Goss, Bob Graham, and Nick Rahhal who is of a Lebanese origin, praised the role of  the Lebanese premier in the reconstruction and development of the country.

The delegation accompanied by the American embassy's charge d'affairs described their official talks in Lebanon as fruitful. Senator Graham said their visit to UN troops in the South yesterday was aimed at getting more information on the situation in South Lebanon. He expected their visit to the country will be followed many other visits of US diplomats and businessmen who might wish to invest in the country's reconstruction drive. Senator Goss hoped progress will be achieved in the peace process. The American delegation also visited today Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir and Imam Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine. The delegation concludes their visit today with a press conference outlining the results of their talks in Lebanon.

Syrian group said it attacked Israeli position

A Syrian group today said it carried out an overnight attack on an Israeli position in Southern Lebanon, but made no mention of casualties in the operation. The organization, under the name of "Hurricane", issued a statement saying it launched an attack with automatic weapons and anti-tank rockets against the Israeli Hula position in the western sector of the zone Israel occupies in the South. The group said it is a military faction of  the Syrian National Social Party, which advocates a greater Syria, including Lebanon, Cyprus, Palestine, and Iraq and Jordan. The Syrian National Social Party announced two months ago that I had started anti-Israeli operations again after a lull of seven years.

Lebanese Muslim cleric accuses Algerian government of massacres

Muslim Cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah today accused the Algerian government of being responsible for the massacres of civilians in Algeria in a bid to destroy the image of Muslims. Fadlallah stressed in a statement today that the Algerian government is either directly or indirectly responsible for these massacres. He also condemned the killing of civilians adding that the whole world now seems to demand a halt to these massacres  in Algeria.

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