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Saturday, September 6, 2008
[Not anti-Israel enough] 1st Palestinian soap opera cancelled

Why was airing of 1st Palestinian soap opera cancelled?
By DPA Last update - 19:18 05/09/2008
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1018539.html

The official Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has cancelled the
airing scheduled for this week of a new soap series, Matabb (Arabic for
"speed bump").

Producer Fareed Majari confirmed Friday the cancellation, which members of
the production team said came as a complete surprise.

They said no grounds were given, but speculated political reasons may be
behind it, with some of the topics being dealt with in the series seen as
too liberal for official Palestinian "state" television.

Officials at the PBC told Deutsche Presse-Agentur Friday that the
German-funded series - the first homemade Palestinian soap opera - was not
cancelled, but postponed until certain scenes were changed.

Yehya Barakat, the director of programs at PBC, denied the asked for changes
constituted censorship. "Rather, it is an attempt to make sure that no
scenes offensive to any party will be aired on an official television
station," he said.

He said an official committee had reviewed the series and decided not to
broadcast it for the time being, until the required changes were made.

The first episode had been expected to be aired on Palestine TV on Monday,
first day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, with producers hoping for
high ratings as Muslim families gather at their homes in the evenings to
break the day's fast.

It is now only being shown on local television stations belonging to the
privately owned Ma'an television network and operating in the main
Palestinian autonomous cities in the West Bank.

Barakat said he was not fully aware of the committee's reasons for not
airing the show, saying he had just returned home from a trip abroad and has
not yet seen the committee's report.

However, other PBC officials who preferred not to be named told DPA that the
makers of the series had rushed to announce the broadcast on Palestine TV
before obtaining official, final approval.

They said some scenes were found offensive to the general Palestinian public
and therefore could not be aired on Palestine TV, an official and
nationalist institution.

Among others, certain scenes failed to show the Israeli occupation in a
negative enough light, they charged. The officials mentioned one scene in
which a Palestinian gives a flower to Israeli soldiers at an army checkpoint
in the West Bank.

They insinuated the series was influenced by the fact that it was funded by
Germany's Goethe Institute and the European Commission, which would not back
programs that do not encourage coexistence between Israel and the
Palestinians.

Observers said Palestine TV, owned by the West Bank administration of
moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the secular Fatah party, is
already struggling with claims by the rival radical Hamas.

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