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Tue 23 Aug 2005 04:00 AM

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Ban on Lebanese TV station lifted

Lebanon’s Parliament has passed a bill allowing a television channel that was shut down three years ago to resume broadcasting.

Lebanon’s Parliament has passed a bill allowing a television channel that was shut down three years ago to resume broadcasting. Murr TV-also known as MTV - was pulled off the air after being accused of broadcasting material that destabilised Lebanon’s relationship with Syria.

The ban was slammed by advocates of press freedom, who accused the government of gagging the station in order to silence criticism of its powerful neighbour.

The move follows Syria’s withdrawal of troops from Lebanon and the formation of a new Parliament this year. Explaining the decision, information minister, Ghazi Aridi told a press conference that ‘the political reality and balance of powers have changed toward the better’.

Gabriel Murr, the station’s owner, said that MTV’s comeback was ‘part of Lebanon’s return to freedom’, adding that he hoped to get the station back on air in a matter of weeks. The reasons given for the ban was that MTV had allegedly violated an election law prohibiting propaganda during a by-election at a time when feelings about Syria’s relationship with Lebanon were at their most polarised.

The bill to re-open MTV was supported by MP Michael Murr, who supported the bill after ending a long-standing feud with this brother Gabriel. Reporters sans Frontiers said it welcomed the decision to allow Murr TV to recommence broadcasting.

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