TV forced to suspend series on Taliban

October 24, 2004

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DUBAI, Oct 23: A soap opera which sparked threats by an radicals was mired in more controversy on Saturday when an Arab television network accused the producers of breaching contract for failing to deliver more episodes.

The network, the Saudi-owned MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Centre), launched a scathing attack on the series' financiers and producers after it was forced to suspend broadcast of the new episodes of the "The Road to Kabul", a love story set in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

"Qatar Television, which funded the series, and the Arab Audio-Visual Centre, the producer and distributor, breached their commitment to deliver all the episodes before the date set for broadcasting during the month of Ramazan," MBC said.

The MBC said it had aired the eight episodes it had received but has now been forced to suspend the broadcasts "due to the refusal of the financing and producing companies to supply us the remaining episodes without giving a convincing reason."

When MBC demanded to be handed the remaining episodes, it was told by Qatar TV that work on the soap had "stopped for technical reasons, which is not true at all and was publicly refuted by the series director ... and its producer," the Dubai-based station added.

Qatar's state television and its Jordanian counterpart said last week they would not broadcast "The Road to Kabul".

The head of Qatar television, Mohammed Abderrahman al-Kawari, was quoted by his country's press as saying the series,"was not technically ready".

An official at Jordanian state television said they had "received a call from the head of Qatari television, which finances the series, saying that only eight episodes could be delivered," and had therefore decided not to broadcast anything until they receive all 30 episodes.-AFP