LBC and the LF: Don’t Celebrate Just Yet

There was a news item which overtook Friday’s Achrafieh bombing today and that’s the judge ruling in the lawsuit between the Lebanese Forces and Pierre Daher, the head of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, who was accused by the LF of abusing the trust they put in him when they handed him the TV station which was founded by their founder more than two decades ago.

A similar ruling had been given last year but Pierre Daher chose to take it to higher courts. LF supporters seem to think that today’s ruling is the final one in the case. Simply put, it is not. According to Agnes Sema’an, a good friend of mine who recently graduated from law school, there are more details about the ruling which seem to have escaped most people.

This is apparently an indictment which came out from the criminal division of the court of cassation (temyiz). It declares the previous case, whose ruling turned out to be in favor of the LF, valid. The argument presented by Daher  at this court was that time had passed on the events that were being argued which makes the initial case invalid; LF argued that Daher should be arrested for fraud and embezzlement.

This opens the way to the ownership trial which means that the case will now be forwarded to the single criminal judge of Beirut and he will look into it. That judge will listen to witnesses and he’ll be given documents by both sides to prove their points and he will give a ruling which might go either way – however, his ruling can go to the appeals court.
The appeals court, also, has way too many ways with which it could advance. So the LF have won a fight in a battle that has not ended yet and will keep going for months to come. Headlines that say “LBC is owned by the LF” are erroneous. LF supporters should not pop champagne bottles all over Facebook just yet. There’s still a long way to go.

But the real question is: what will this mean to LBC as a TV station if it returned to the Lebanese Forces?

If we go by other Lebanese TV stations which are handled by political parties (Future, NBN, Al Manar, OTV), this means that the quality of LBC as a TV station will degrade rapidly. Most of these TV stations are unwatchable due to their extreme bias and ridiculous one-sidedness so even if the TV shows that are offered remain at a certain relatively high standard, the news won’t be. I expect the viewership of the TV station to decrease the more biased its news service becomes.

I also expect a lot of political hiring and firing to happen. Many LF-supporters searching for jobs will suddenly find a spot for them in the midst of LBC. It has already started with my Facebook timeline filled with excited mass communication majors who also happen to be LF supporters and for their supporters to be hired, others have got to go. How disappointed will those people be when they find out that it won’t be that imminent.

All in all, while it is perhaps the Lebanese Forces’ right to own LBC, I have to wonder if it’s the best thing for Lebanon’s leading TV station to become deeply and politically involved? One thing is for sure though: even if the LF end up winning the whole thing, it will not be an easy walk in the park for them to run a station.

Spare Us the MTV Hate

Who among you, precious readers, has made a “Homsi” joke?

No, don’t be ashamed to raise your hand. If you’re not raising it then you are lying. We’ve all done it. We’ve all said it. We all have a connotation in our head that homsi is equal with stupid. Even when Steve Jobs died, some statuses were: “A Homsi just changed the world….”

The Homsis are also the ones getting hammered by Assad’s forces now in their revolution.

Then why don’t we all get into a fit of “OMG OMG *hyperventilates* RACISM” when everyone does the Homsi jokes?

Yes, you guessed it. No one sees it as racism. But it is. It flagrantly is.

The recent? The leading Lebanese TV station MTV featured on one of its comedy shows “Ktir Salbe” a comedy skit about migrant workers in Lebanon that many perceived as racist. BeirutSpring was even speculating about boycotting MTV as a whole, starting with deleting their app.

1) I have no idea if people in Lebanon actually think our society is NOT racist, but apparently this is the case. Why else would everyone get angry because of a comedy skit that showcases what most people do with the maids they get?

2) For those criticizing the comedy skit, I ask. How many of you watch American comedy shows such as SouthPark or Family Guy? Are you offended by the racist “slurs” those shows make? Better yet, in case “cartoons” are too childish for you, what’s your opinion on shows like The Colbert Report and other political satire shows that also make fun of racist issues? You laugh at those, right? Is your idea of “deranged comedy” only applicable when it’s done by a Lebanese?

3) Regardless of how you look at it, the Ktir Salbe skit is racist. But it’s not racist because they, as actors and personnel and TV station, are racist. The skit is as such because the show is, at the end of the day, a satire on Lebanese society. Just for reference, those same characters have had a very similar skit where they were parents at their children’s school, asking the headmistress every unimaginable thing you can come up with – including making their child sectarian. Why didn’t anyone get angry then?

4) MTV is possibly the only Lebanese TV station actually highlighting humanitarian issues in Lebanon. They even have a show “Tahkik” used exclusively for such purposes. Even the news report about foreigners in Bourj Hammoud was highlighting a social issue that many Lebanese societies have. Whether that news report was well done or not is a totally different matter. And yet, everyone had to feel involved with it. Question. Are you from Bourj Hammoud? If so, were you offended by that news report and the subsequent decision by your municipality to regulate foreign workers? If you’re from Bourj Hammoud and you were offended, then you know how to vote next elections. If you’re not from Bourj Hammoud, then you do have a right for free speech, obviously. But how do you know that the crime rates have not gone up because of an uncontrolled influx of foreign workers?

I blogged about this before with regards to the Myriam Achkar murder – foreign workers in Lebanon need to be regulated, whether you think it’s racist or not.

5) For all matters and purposes, MTV is the best Lebanese TV station. It is revolutionary in every way possible for the Lebanese scene: they have a great iOS app, they are very apt at handling social media, they use state of the art technology, etc…. Regardless of the political content of its news, so you don’t say I’m politically biased, every single show MTV airs is done with the care for details and with great execution. Their comedy shows can be lame sometimes, as is the case with every Lebanese comedy show, but it still doesn’t mean we need to bash them for the comedy they do because, at the end of the day, they are doing “comedy.”

For those who want to boycott MTV, have you tried contacting the TV station first to see what it has to say about this? A TV show does not summarize a whole TV station.

As for the rest, I quote: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”