Antelias, January 7 th, 2004
The media Observatory of UCIP-Lebanon has undertaken an annual inventory of the year 2003 about the situation of the media in Lebanon with an overview of the important stages and events of the last year. The Observatory communiqué includes the following:
1- It is really sad to see that Lebanon has lost in 2003 its leading position that it used to have in the Arab milieu at the time when it was a place for freedom of expression, of thought and cult as well as a haven for intellectuals and culture people even in the hardest circumstances. Lebanon has lost 50 points in the world order; it is at the 106th position over 166 countries covered by a study undertaken worldwide. The Observatory sees in this situation a serious and unprecedented sign of underdevelopment of the Lebanese population and deprives the Arab world of an intellectual beacon that the Arab countries have used so much to defend their just causes.
2- The incidents that people from the media or intellectuals were subjected to are unfortunately a sign of the continuous fall of the freedoms of the media and freedoms of thought in Lebanon such as the confiscation of the book by Dr Adonis Akra, the campaign led against the thinker Akl Awit, the aggression against Dr Mohammad Al Moghrabi, the harassment against the Bassmat Watan team… Hindering the work of intellectuals and people working in the media fields through oppression and threat shows the development of injustice and the fall of the logic of dialogue, which leaves way to the worst, the refusal of the other being just one of the aspects of this intellectual, cultural and spiritual decadence.
3- The atmosphere of intimidation that has followed the measures leading to the closure of the MTV station and Radio Mount Lebanon continues to weigh on media freedoms in Lebanon. It seems to get worse continuously after the problem faced by the New TV, the attacks using explosives against the Future TV and the attempt of attack against An nahar. Some reporters and journalists have also been subjected to oppression while accomplishing their duty, as it was the case during the incident of Bteghrine and during the students' demonstrations in Beirut. All these facts bear negative signs concerning public freedoms that have always characterized the Lebanese society.
4- The scientific and cultural institutions in Lebanon seem to be threatened and deprived of the attention they deserve. The Lebanese University crisis and the rumors about the possible inclusion of the UNESCO Palace in the privatization policy only confirm the financial and investment trend followed by the current Government to the detriment of culture. This material mercantile trend that starts from the "end justifies the means" rule and considers that money measures success, undermines the intellectual and cultural particularity of Lebanon. It is also contrary to the scinetific contemporary world trends that insist on the fact that within development investment priroty should be given to man and not only to the material means because such a trend does not seem to serve the general interest of the nation but rather particular interests.
5- The situation of the media in Lebanon needs a national project that is up to the challenges it is facing so that it can restore dynamism and in order for the spirit of freedom to come back to it for the support needed for the smooth functioning of the institutions. We need to reconsider the laws on media and the way TV and radio permits are distributed that should be based on the spirit of democracy rather than on the currently-applied quotas system. We also wish that Télé Liban will regain its role as a means of gathering for the enlarged Lebanese family and the satellite stations will be organized, some continue broadcasting erotic movies without any control.
6- Last year, over 50 journalists in the world were killed in duty. The UCIP-Lebanon wishes that the new year will hold a better atmosphere for the journalist action in Lebanon and in the world so that journalists and reporters will be able to play their role in full freedom and thus serve truth, justice and man.