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Authorities close two Lebanese television station offices

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the closure of the Lebanon-based satellite TV station LBC's offices in Riyadh and Jeddah for broadcasting a programme in which a Saudi man in his 30s, Mazen Abdul Jawwad, talked openly about his sexual adventures since the age of 14.

Culture and information ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman Al-Hazaa announced the closure of LBC's offices on 9 August 2009. Broadcast last month in the LBC series "Bold Red Line," the programme outraged the Saudi authorities.

"The programme may have shocked the country's conservatives but this measure is disproportionate and ineffective as LBC's offices in Saudi Arabia are not responsible for the choice of programming and content that it broadcasts from Lebanon," Reporters Without Borders said. "It nonetheless violates the freedom of the satellite broadcast media operating in the country."

Saudi conservatives regarded the programme as shocking and immoral, and as a violation of Islamic law as applied in Saudi Arabia. Posted as a video on YouTube, the programme shows Jawwad and several friends in his bedroom discussing their sex lives.

Access to the YouTube video has been blocked in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi agency responsible for Internet censorship. Although Jawwad apologised for the programme, he and his friends have been arrested.

A Saudi civil society group has brought a suit against LBC and the programme's participants. The station, which is controlled by reformist Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, declined to comment when contacted by Reporters Without Borders.

See the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez21BTosMR4

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