Lebanon daily suspends print edition over economic crisis

The Daily Star
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Updated 05 February 2020

Lebanon daily suspends print edition over economic crisis

  • In recent months, employees at the newspaper had complained of not being paid, with one departing journalist reporting in December that some were owed up to half a year in wages

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s English-language The Daily Star suspended its print edition Tuesday, the latest casualty in the collapse of the country’s once-flourishing press.
The newspaper, which is co-owned by the family of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, said on its website the temporary halt of the printing presses was a result of the economic downturn.
It cited “the financial challenges facing the Lebanese press which have been exacerbated by the deterioration of the economic situation in the country.”
It said the temporary suspension came after “a drop to virtually no advertising revenue in the last quarter of 2019, as well as in January of this year.”
In recent months, employees at the newspaper had complained of not being paid, with one departing journalist reporting in December that some were owed up to half a year in wages.
A series of prominent dailies in Lebanon have disappeared from print due to funding shortages in recent years.
The Daily Star is the latest media outlet linked to the former premier to be struggling. In September last year, Hariri announced the suspension of Future TV, his ailing mouthpiece whose employees had been on strike over unpaid wages.

BACKGROUND

The Daily Star was founded in 1952 by Kamel Mroue, then owner and editor in chief of the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily newspaper.

In January 2019, the Hariri family’s Al-Mustaqbal newspaper issued its last print version, 20 years after it was established.
Saudi Oger, a once-mighty construction firm that was the basis of the Hariri business empire, collapsed in 2017, leaving thousands jobless.
Hariri stepped down as prime minister in late October following unprecedented nationwide protests against alleged official corruption and ineptitude.
Last year, The Daily Star published a newsless black issue to protest the political and economic crises gripping the country.
The economic crisis has since deteriorated, and been compounded by a financial crunch.
The Daily Star was founded in 1952 by Kamel Mroue, then owner and editor in chief of the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily newspaper.
It closed for more than a decade during the 1975-1990 civil war, returning to news stands in 1996.
The newspaper was bought by businessmen close to Hariri in 2010.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.