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'BBC pulls Hariri documentary amid tensions'

November 18, 2010 12:42

Lebanese paper says "Murder in Beirut" accuses Hizbullah of killing former PM; series was reportedly supposed to premiere on Saturday.

Slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

311_Rafik Hariri. (photo credit:Associated Press)

The BBC has pulled a documentary series on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, UK daily The Guardian reported on Thursday.

BBC reportedly postponed "Murder in Beirut," which was supposed to premiere on BBC world Saturday, due to tensions in Lebanon over the expectation that Hizbullah is expected to be accused of the murder.

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No new broadcast date has been announced for the series.

The decision was reportedly made after Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar described the film, saying that its purpose is "to accuse Hizbullah of the crime," and excerpts from the documentary were aired on a pro-Syrian channel in Lebanon.

The series' producer, Christopher Mitchell, told The Guardian: "I am assured by the BBC that the series hasn't been dropped. Stories about the Middle East are...highly sensitive and go through a lengthy period of fact-checking and approval...'Murder in Beirut' tackles a difficult subject and everybody on the production worked hard to make sure it was as fair and accurate as possible."

The series was originally produced by the British-Saudi production company ORTV and commissioned by al-Arabiyya TV, a Saudi television channel, The Guardian reported. The original documentary was never broadcast, because Saudi Arabia was attempting to improve its relations with Syria, but the BBC commissioned a new version.

The BBC says the program does not yet comply with its editorial guidelines, and needed more time to be complete.
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