Lebanon Government and Media
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy (with confessional structure)
Head of State: President Michel Awn – Maronite Christian/ The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) (Centre-Right)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Future Movement Party)
Speaker of Parliament: Nabih Berri (Shia Muslim) / The Amal Movement
Political Position: Center-Right
World Press Freedom Rank: Lebanon 102/180
In 2020, Reporters Without Borders ranked Lebanon 102/180 in their Press Freedom Index, stating overall Lebanon is a very polarized country and in terms of press freedom, “newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels serve as the mouthpieces of political parties or businessmen.” Another issue stated by RSF concerns Lebanon’s criminal code which criminalizes defamation and the dissemination of false information.
Government Influence on Media: Lebanon is a very diverse country both religiously and culturally. In Lebanon, there are six different Muslim sects which are Shi’a, Sunni, Druze, Isma’ili, Alawite, and Nusayr. There are also twelve different Christian sects, with Maronite Catholic being the largest and various other sects including Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, and Protestant. Therefore, in order to establish a balance of power among these religious groups a quasi federation al-nizam al-taeifi or the confessional regime was formed, where political power is distributed in the office of the President, Prime Minister, and Speaker of Parliament, with each representing one of Lebanon’s three largest religious sects (Maronite Christians, Sunni, and Shi’a Muslims).
Lebanese media reflects its political-cultural diversity and compared to neighboring countries Lebanon has more media freedom. However, Lebanon shows the highest rate of political affiliation, with the majority of media outlets, being state-owned such as Télé-Liban, or owned by current or former members of parliament and political parties. Al-Manar TV is operated by Hezbollah. (Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim, political, military, social organization and ally with the Amal Movement. In 1997, The United States designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and in 2016, Saudi Arabia led Gulf countries, also declared Hezbollah a terrorist group.) Similar to television channels, the majority of Lebanese radio stations are also affiliated with a particular sect or political party. When it comes to print media the ownership has the same pattern, for example, Al Mustaqbali is a newspaper founded by former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and supports the political views of the Future Movement, which is led by his son, the current Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Sunni Muslim – Center-Right). According to the Media Ownership Monitor, The Hariri family is also involved in several media outlets, either directly or indirectly through their companies. For example, they are involved in “Annahar through Al Mal Investment Co. SAL, in Al-Mustaqbal newspaper and Future TV directly, and Radio Orient through Wave Holding, and in The Daily Star through D.S. Holding and Millennium Development.” The Hariri family also owns the Paris-based Radio Orient, which is broadcast in France.”
Another example is Tahseen Khayat who is a businessman, founder, and Chairman of Al Jadeed (TV Station), whose companies are also involved in the engineering and contracting sector, publishing, energy production, oil, and gas. Al-Jadeed’s editorial line is critical of the Future Movement and the March 14 Alliance.
In conclusion: Lebanese media is predominantly controlled by current and former politicians and, parliament members. In fact, it has one of the highest rates of political affiliation ownership in the world at 78%. This results in significant government influence on media as well as the promotion of political propaganda by media outlets affiliated with different political parties.
|Top 5 Lebanon Media Sources by Web Rank|