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Ownership of Mass Media in Lebanon

In general, the Lebanese media is controlled by a handful of individuals either belonging to political parties or local dynasties. Compared to its neighbors, Lebanon technically has more media freedom; however, it has the highest rate of political affiliation, with most of the media outlets being state-owned or owned by current or former politicians. Specifically, elite families such as the Daher-Saad, Khayat and Murr families, own several of the most prominent media outlets like LBCI, Al Jadeed, and MTV. Owning these media outlets allows the families to directly control the news content as well as advance their own partisan message. Hezbollah also owns an extensive network of media outlets from Al-Manar TV to Al-Nour Radio; platforms where they typically spread disinformation targeting Lebanese and international audiences.

In regard to these organizations global reach and audiences, most are either focused on the larger Arab region or just Lebanon. For example, the LBCI, literally meaning Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International, has launched international versions of its network targeting Lebanese citizens in diaspora countries. Other organizations such as Al Jadeed, have also launched in countries like the United States, Canada, South America, and Australia in order to reach Arabic speaking immigrants. Hezbollah and its television outlet Al-Manar, on the other hand, have been either banned by countries or are simply unavailable outside of Lebanon.

Source: Media Ownership Monitor-Lebanon 2018

Lebanon’s current economic crisis which began in late 2019, has also led media organizations to increasingly fall prey to international and political influence. The few independent news outlets that still exist now commonly accept bribes from politicians in exchange for supporting and advocating for their partisan message, especially during electoral periods. In fact, foreign entities such as foreign embassies and companies often provide these smaller media outlets that are typically low on funds, financial assistance for editorial control and influence. With the current financial crisis, the Lebanese media realm is extremely vulnerable to increasing control by transnational capital.

To help imprint how politicized the Lebanese media is, below are some statistics of the current media system:

Print – 9 out of the 10 print outlets are directly politically affiliated.

Radio- 7 out of the 8 radio stations are directly politically affiliated.

Television- All 9 TV stations are directly politically affiliated.

References:

“The Myth of Media Freedom in Lebanon.” 2013. Arab Media & Society. May 12, 2013. https://www.arabmediasociety.com/the-myth-of-media-freedom-in-lebanon/.

“Lebanon: Freedom on the Net 2021 Country Report.” 2021. Freedom House. 2021. https://freedomhouse.org/country/lebanon/freedom-net/2021.

“Media in the Political Maze.” 2018. Media Ownership Monitor. 2018. http://lebanon.mom-gmr.org/en/findings/political-affiliations/.

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1 Comment

  1. Ed Webb

    It seems to me in this post you have gone straight to the heart of the major problem with Lebanon’s media. As in the consociational (https://www.britannica.com/topic/consociationalism) political system, resources—here, ownership of significant media organizations—are distributed among powerful members of the major sectarian groups. The result is a highly fragmented media system, where potentially people can live in parallel information environments, being exposed to very different data and opinions from what their fellow citizens with different sectarian and political affiliations experience. Those who do not wish to stay within a sectarian bubble are left with few options when it comes to mass media. Social media is another matter although we know that filter bubbles tend to form there through different mechanisms.

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