Lebanon - Media Landscape
|Currency||Lebanese Pound (LBP)|
|Population||3.9 m (2007 est.)|
|Area||10 400 sq km|
|Total imports (%EU)||€8.8 bn (2006) (38%)|
|Total exports (%EU)||€2.0 bn (2006) (12%)|
|GDP||€17 bn (2004)|
|GDP per capita||€5000 (est.)|
|Unemployment||20% (2006 est.)|
|Internet users (per 1000 people)||195 (2005)|
|Languages||Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian|
Despite the turmoil that has plagued Lebanon, the country has created a diverse and sophisticated press system. The diversity of the media in Lebanon can be seen as a reflection of the Lebanese people themselves.
Lebanon suffered a damaging civil war from 1975-1990. The conflict was the result of political, ethnic and religious tensions. The country enjoyed a period of calm and stability after the end of the civil war. In 2006, however, after Israeli airstrikes, Lebanon experienced widespread loss of lives and damage to infrastructure.
The Lebanese press is often touted by websites such as Menassat as the region’s most professional. Journalists enjoy immense freedom of tone, more so than in neighbouring states. Strictly speaking, there is no official censorship, as the media is generally financed by stakeholders on the local scene. As a result, the information provided is rarely objective and often reflects the opinion of a determined political group.
Broadcasts which are deemed damaging to the nation’s economy are not allowed. A media law introduced in 1994 gives the Lebanese government the right to detain and impose fines on journalists found guilty of defamation and inciting strife. However, if the media are allowed to broadcast live political and religious events, they are engaged in some cases, in a kind of self-censorship when they consider that an issue might stir confessional strife.
The press diversity in Lebanon is characterised by the existence of dozens of dailies and periodicals in circulation. Major newspapers include:
- An-Nahar an Arabic-language daily, founded in 1923. It is the most-read Arabic daily
- As-Safir, an Arabic-language daily. According to the Arab Press Network, the newspaper has, in recent times shown growing sympathy to the Shia community and Hezbollah.
- Al-Akhbar, Al-Mustaqbal and Al-Hayat in Arabic Al-Akhbar is regarded as close to the opposition, particularly, Hezbollah. Al-Mustaqbal is owned by the family of slain former Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri.
- The Daily Star is Lebanon’s only English-language daily. Founded in 1952, it stopped printing during the civil war but reappeared in 1996. Its circulation is about 15.000 copies. Its’ website, which launched in 1997, is one of the best in the Middle East li>
- L’Orient Le Jour a French daily, founded in 1971, publishes in a more liberal tone than the rest of the main Arab press
The Lebanese print media often calls the government into account and voices criticism.
There are currently seven legally-recognized television stations authorised by the Lebanese Ministry of Information to broadcast news in Lebanon. The television and radio market is strong and diversified throughout. Television channels that reflect religious or political persuasions (e.g. Hezbollah, Christian groups, pro-Syrian) dominate the market.
The independence of the major media outlets is limited, though, by financial backers and owners. Owners are typically either powerful business people or Arabic states.
There are more than 30 radio stations on the air across Lebanon. Only one television (Tele Liban) and one radio station (Radio Liban) are run by the state.
Important channels include:
- LBCI, a private TV station which supports the actual majority
- Future TV, a commercial station that belongs to the family of Rafiq Hariri, a former prime minister
- Al-Manar TV is owned by the Hezbollah Party
- New TV, a Pan-Arab satellite station broadcasting from Lebanon. The station offers diverse programming that includes news as well as political, cultural, and entertainment shows
Lebanese television and radio have a reputation for high quality and often serve as models in the region.
Internet and telecommunications infrastructure was established in the early 1990s. The World Factbook lists 950.000 Internet users in Lebanon in 2006. The number of Internet hosts in 2007 stood at 5.635.
Internet providers are regulated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
The Lebanese blogosphere is strongly developed. Some major blogs:
- Mazen Kerbaj’s
take on the political situation in Lebanon: This blog, by cartoonist Mazen Kerbaj, sums up the optimism and pessimism of the public in Lebanon
- The Beirut Spring: This blog focuses on issues concerning Lebanese society and its politicsli>
- My Lebanon is being burned to ashes: Inspired by the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, this blog was started to report on events. Now the blog offers analysis of the post-war effects on Lebanese people locally and abroad
- Streets of Beirut: This blog describes daily life in Lebanon and international affairs
The mobile phone market in Lebanon is expanding. There are over 1.103 million mobile in use. Wireless networks provide a good service throughout the country.
Learning and support
One of the up-and-coming media organisations in Lebanon is the Maharat Foundation, or Skills Foundation. It is made up of young journalists committed to supporting journalistic skills. The foundation is comprised of journalists who have worked together and have seen on a firsthand basis the obstacles to free journalism in Lebanon.
Universities offer degrees in journalism. Syllabuses take three or four years to complete. However, after completing a 1-2 year master programme, the total study period is 5-6 years. The State University of Lebanon has an information and documentation faculty. It offers journalism, media studies, public relations and advertising options. It registers 1.000 students per year.
- American University of Beirut
The university provides training in investigative journalism, elections coverage, newsroom management, science/health/environment journalism, citizen journalism, war/safety coverage and online journalism. Courses are in Arabic, English and French
- Institute for Professional Journalists
The private Lebanese American University offers an English-language course in mass communication. It involves in-company stints to gain practical experience. It also provides online journalism options
- Notre Dame University-Lebanon
The private, Maronite Notre Dame University has a three-year course in English. Students learn various skills relating to the journalistic profession including writing, reporting and communication skills
- The University of Lebanon
The University of Lebanon also offers a French-language degree course (Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieurs) which combines theory and practical study. Students produce a newspaper every year. It is published by the Arabic-language daily, An Nahar. A number of working editors and publishers are graduates from this university
Further education and training for practising journalists is rare. Media groups that have the resources, like An-Nahar and TV channel LBC, provide occasional training.
Lebanese journalists are represented by the Lebanese Press Order and the Publishers’ Union
Practicing journalists do not require certification, although those with a degree in journalism must register with the journalists’ Syndicate. Press cards are issued by a committee made up of members of the Press Order and Journalists’ Syndicate. This system is perceived as a way of putting pressure on journalists. Many younger journalists refuse to apply.
- American University of Beirut
- BBC Country Profile
- Daily Star
- L’Orient Le Jour
Bir Hasan-Al Chadia bldg., first floor
PO Box 8843
Tel.: +961 377 563 8/9
Fax: +961 185 371 2/3
American University of Beirut
P.O Box 11-0236
1107 2020 Riad El-Solh/ Beirut
Institute for Professional Journalists
P.O. Box 13-5053
1102 2801 Beirut
Director: Magda Abu-Fadil
Notre Dame University- Lebanon
P.O Box 72 Zouk Mikael
Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon
Tel.: +961 921 89 50
Fax: +961 922 51 64
The University of Lebanon
P.O Box 14- 6573
Place du Musee
Tel.: +961 161 26 18
Fax: +961 161 26 21