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Both the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House have stated that the audio-visual media law is improper and that they as politicians should not be TV stations owners. Would it be mischevious to ask who twisted our politicians’ arms into becoming founding members and owners of such stations? And now that it has dawned on them that it is wrong, why don’t they rectify the situation? The Minister of Information has also made a statement to the effect that if the government was to implement the already deficient and biased law, then all TV stations would have to be shut down.

The same politicians were responsible for Tele-Liban’s recruitment policy and infringement on its exclusive broadcast rights, which were supposed to extend until 2012, and have caused millions of dollars in losses paid by the people. Should they not foot the bill?

Law No. 382, which is reviewed in this issue’s lead article, helped those politicians be in command of the media and as confirmed by the Minister of Information, it is also being violated. By passing this law in 1994, both the parliament and the government have violated the constitution, the penal code and the illicit wealth laws. The recent statements by those politicians are a testimony to that.

MTV was not the only channel that promoted or supported a candidate for parliament. Tele--Liban ran ads against Hariri while Future TV was in full support of its founder and owner. LBC, partly owned by two prominent politicians, did not hide its favorites in the coverage of news and events, and the same applies to NBN and Al Manar in the parliamentary election campaign and news coverage.

A recent poll conducted by Information International has shown that 60% of the public opposes the closure of MTV while 61% believe that the judiciary is influenced by politicians. However, the shutdown of MTV should not be viewed as an ‘attack on freedoms’ since freedom was itself the victim when all the stations were licensed on a political and confessional basis, with each representing a certain sect and political leader. The shutdown should also not be viewed as the upholding of the rule of law and institutions for the same reasons.

One cannot help wondering and perhaps wishing for the shutdown of all TV stations for 30 days, allowing the Lebanese people to catch their breath and contemplate what is wrong in the country. Maybe we would speak out honestly, forgive and reconcile, and perhaps read a book or two.


Jawad Adra

 



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