BBC pulls Hariri documentary

Nov. 18, 2010 at 10:57 AM
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LONDON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The BBC said a documentary on former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri didn't meet editorial guidelines and led to a rescheduling of the series.

The BBC announced it was changing the air date of the three-part documentary "Murder in Beirut" just days before its scheduled broadcast on BBC World this weekend.

Lebanese media said unedited clips from the film were viewed as implicating Hezbollah in the 2005 assassination of the political leader in downtown Beirut, London's Guardian newspaper reports.

The film depicts influential leaders in Beirut, Washington, Damascus and Paris telling "the gripping inside story" of the political power struggles in the Middle East, the Guardian adds.

Mike Gardner, the head of corporate communications for BBC Global News, said in an e-mail message to United Press International clarifying the network's position that the documentary didn't meet editorial guidelines.

"All programs shown by BBC World News must comply with the BBC's editorial guidelines," his statement read. "From time to time, the compliance process requires more time to complete. This can affect scheduling. This series of programs falls into this category."

The Guardian notes the series was originally commissioned by ORTV, a British-Saudi production, to al-Arabiya.

Christopher Mitchell, the show's producer, told the Guardian the decision to postpone the broadcast was regrettable.

"'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," he told the newspaper.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is expected to issue indictments in its probe of the Hariri assassination soon. It is widely expected that Hezbollah will be tied to the slaying, though its leaders say they have evidence to suggest Israel played a role in the plot.

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