Media – BBC pulled a documentary on Hariri assassination

(Naharnet, November 18, 2010)

The BBC has suddenly pulled a documentary about the assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri after al-Akhbar newspaper described how the film accused Hizbullah in the 2005 murder in which Hariri and 22 others were killed by a massive car bomb.

The Guardian said that the first of the three-part documentary “Murder in Beirut” was scheduled to be broadcast on BBC World this Saturday, but the producer was told without warning on Tuesday that it was being delayed. The BBC said the film had not yet complied with its editorial guidelines. No new date has been set.

Extracts of the documentary were broadcast on al-Jadeed TV. The Guardian said the series was made by ORTV, a British-Saudi production company, and originally commissioned by al-Arabiyya TV. The first version was completed last summer but never broadcast as Saudi Arabia sought to improve relations with Syria. BBC World then commissioned a re-edited version.

At first Syria was widely blamed for the Hariri assassination but in recent months accusations shifted toward Hizbullah, raising fears of unrest if indictments are issued. The films, according to the Guardian, include interviews with decision-makers in Beirut, Damascus, Washington and Paris, promising to tell “the gripping inside story of what’s really at stake in the struggle for power in the Middle East.”