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Nothing political in "Seal Team Six" film timing, TV chief says

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A TV executive on Wednesday rejected claims that there was a political motive behind a decision to broadcast a movie about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden just two days before the presidential election.

"Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden" will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel on November 4. The action feature film is one of two movies about the 2011 raid by U.S. special forces that resulted in the death of the al Qaeda leader - considered one of the triumphs of President Barack Obama's term in office.

Obama faces Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the November 6 election.

"The proximity to the election is not lost on us but we think the topic of Seal Team Six, and generally the CIA and national security, is of interest to our viewers," David Lyle, chief executive of National Geographic Channel, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"Much has been made of the timing but we think that the show speaks for itself. It's really about the Seal Team and the hunt (for bin Laden) and the final outcome. If anyone sees a preview they will realize that the political side is very slight indeed," Lyle said.

Political website Breitbart.com has accused National Geographic Channel of using the broadcast of the film as "a two-hour pro-Obama campaign advertisement."

Lyle, who is Australian, noted that the film was produced and financed by Frenchman Nicolas Charter. It is being distributed by The Weinstein Company, whose co-chairman Harvey Weinstein is a prominent supporter of Obama.

"His (Weinstein's) connections have had people looking for other things in the movie, which in the end is an edge-of-your- seat thriller," Lyle said. "I'm not a voter in this election," he added.

Lyle said he would be happy to show the movie to both the Obama and Romney campaigns but neither had asked to see it.

A second movie project about the hunt for bin Laden, "Zero Dark Thirty" from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, was pushed back for release earlier this year to December.

"Seal Team Six" director John Stockwell has also denied that the film is part of a political bid to get Obama re-elected.

In a column for The Huffington Post website on Wednesday headlined "Can a movie swing an election?", Stockwell noted claims by others that the film "could tip the election in the president's favor."

"Here's what I can tell you: the origins of 'Seal Team Six' were not political ... The movie is about the-behind-the-scenes wrangling that went into that decision (to launch the operation); the amazing work of the intelligence community, the largely unheralded work of the local nationals in Pakistan who aided the mission, and our extraordinary special forces," Stockwell wrote.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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