An entertaining day at the 8th Arab Media Forum yesterday:

In a heated debate at the “Arabic Versions of Foreign TV Channels: What Objectives and What Messages?” session of the forum, representatives of the foreign media channels including BBC Arabia, US Al Hurra, German DTC FILI argued that their editorial policies only reflected objectivity, neutrality and balance.

Now here’s the best part. The moderator, Diana Moukalled, Production and Programming manager at Future TV, was the one who got the ball rolling:

[Diana] triggered a debate after accusing the channels of being a mouthpiece of the country of their origin. “Isn’t Al Hurra a tool in the hands of the US?” she asked. She said that the channel supported the viewpoints of banned outfits such as Hezbollah and Hamas and asked whether by highlighting such issues the Arab world understood the US better than before.

You know the saying, “don’t throw stones at your neighbor’s house, especially when you house is made of glass”? Unfortunately as the ‘moderator’, they couldn’t ask her if Future TV is a tool in the hands of the Future Movement. I would love to know the answer to that question. Before you say or think anything, I know Future TV is not the only media outlet in Lebanon that is exclusively a mouthpiece of their political backers. But she seems to be attacking the other channels as if she is morally on higher ground than the others. Well Diana, I can tell you that Future TV is no better than Al Manar.

Plus I love the terms she used to describe Hezbollah and Hamas: banned outfits (to be fair, I do not have the Arabic transcript). I guess her idea is that because they are banned by foreign governments, media outlets that fall within the jurisdiction of these foreign governments should not be giving them airtime. In essence, she is recognizing and justifying government censorship on news reporting and goes a step further by saying, whoever finances the operations of a television station, for instance, should have authority to dictate what is reported.

Thankfully the former Kuwait Minister of Information ended the debate with the following statement:

“We should look at ourselves. We have shortcomings that we need to overcome instead of accusing anyone.”

Well said.