Monday, July 23, 2007

OTV goes on air, vowing to deliver 'objective' news

OTV goes on air, vowing to deliver 'objective' news
Station hopes to continue to expand

By Nour Samaha
Daily Star staff

MEKALLES: The long-awaited launching of OTV finally took place on Friday evening, bringing yet another Lebanese competitor into the running for television news audiences. With celebrations held throughout the country, and big screen TVs erected to broadcast the first news bulletin at 8 p.m., the station took its first step into the world of media broadcasting with what it says is the aim of providing objective and in-depth reporting and analysis. "We are going to be objective and meticulous with all of our information and our news, especially with regard to developments in politics," Jean Aziz, news and political program director of OTV, told The Daily Star on Friday prior to the launch. "We will prove it tonight with our first bulletin, in which everyone will see what we are about." Aziz, a veteran in the media industry having worked with the leftist newspaper Al-Akhbar prior to the television station's launch, said OTV's only yardstick for measuring itself against competitors will be the "truth." "We only have one competitor," he said. "And that is the truth. We are going to try to get the truth at all times, and make this known to all."

The OTV launching was originally set for the beginning of May, but due to unforeseen challenges, technical problems, and issues with office location, the date was pushed back to July. Now based in a newly constructed building with bright orange furniture and equipment dotted around the offices, OTV has overcome most of the setbacks, but is still in a period of transition until September. "We did face some technical issues, and some issues regarding formalities," explained Aziz. "For the next six weeks we are in a period of transition where only some of the programs will be aired, but by September we should be running all of our programs properly and efficiently ... We hope we will continue to expand."

The station will be hosting news bulletins and political talk shows, introducing socio-political and economic programs, entertainment programs, and documentaries by September. OTV, at times nicknamed 'Orange TV' due to its orange logo, has been linked on various occasions with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) opposition party, whose logo is also orange. But ownership of the television station does not lie in the hands of just one patron, as is the case with many other local Lebanese channels. Rather, shares were sold all over the world, to both individuals and companies, in order to allow anyone who may have had an interest in the station to also share some of the responsibility of the ownership and running of it. Aziz was quick to point out that the rumors and accusations that the channel would be biased toward a certain political party will be put to rest after the launch. "We have received criticisms for being an organization affiliated with the FPM but this, I feel, will pass," he said. This point was reiterated by Patrick Naimeh, a director at OTV. "It is not because of the FPM that we are working here," he said. "We don't tend to discuss politics between us, so we don't have those kinds of divisions ... we are a team of professionals."

As OTV joins the game with the rest of the big players - such as LBC, Al-Manar, Future, and New TV - Naimeh said it is a little soon to be discussing competitors in the field. He explained that the immediate challenge facing the staff is proving their worth to all those that are waiting for results. "While it was a challenge working in the build-up to the launch," Naimeh said. "The pressure is now, with everyone watching," Naimeh said, adding that by everyone, he means both supporters of the governing coalition and the opposition forces.

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