Antelias, January 27, 2004
1 – The position of the national council for media from “Bass Mat Watan” program (critical Lebanese program) reminds of its previous positions from other mass medias and its recommendations of closing and forbidding them. This threatening approach shall affect negatively the spirit of the media freedom in general and affect the economy of these medias. Moreover, the extremist positions of some members of the council during their meeting which was circulated between newspapers, calls for concern and shows once again the necessity of reviewing the mechanism of appointing its members for preventing its two functions and neutrality. If the said program makes a mistake in its last approach, it will be punished by the audience who will refuse this approach and lose the credibility of the channel. Thus, there is no need to take such official procedures.
2 – The Forum condemns the prohibition of the colleague Rachid Zein El Din, President of Media National Agency at Aley to cover a religious ceremony and to achieve his media role, from the bodyguards of the US ambassador to Lebanon, noting that reporters have constantly been subject to such accidents from bodyguards of politicians and diplomatists. These actions contradict with the law State and violate the human dignity, the dignity of the Constitution and laws which guarantee the personal freedoms. It is necessary to mention that some political and diplomatic convoys, during their movement or presence in public places, do not give any value to the citizen nor do they respect his civil and human rights.
3 – The Forum examined the “convention text of cooperation and brotherhood” between the Lebanese editors’ syndicates and the Syrian reporters’ Union which was signed on the 19th of this current month at Damascus. The Forum, by asserting its engagement to the church principles of the right to inform, to be informed and other fundamental rights related to individuals and States, and its engagement to the local national church positions from the necessity of establishing the best relations between Lebanon and Syria in all sectors, registers the following remarks:
– The structure of the official or unofficial Syrian press radically differs from the structure of the Lebanese press which is a private sector. Thus, their role and action mechanism are radically different. The Forum hopes that the Lebanese press, which was the forerunner in the Arab World, be able to irradiate its role and experience, not to reduce its role to a less real and aspiring one.
– The introduction of the convention stressed on the press role in “producing the public opinion, guiding the audience, and strengthening the national and local will”. This goal, according to the goodwill of its authors in these current conditions, may include the subjugation of the press under the cover of serving local issues which will not succeed without a free press, since the political position of the reporter is a free and responsible choice. He does not guide a power which considers that the press is juvenile to establish a mature public opinion. He is supposed to inspire his positions from his conscience, his culture and his free and responsible knowledge, not from any other power. All examples in the world assert on the failure of official press and the orientation of readers toward the private media free from any pressures, whatever were their political and financial sources.
– The main role of the press was absent from the convention, namely the monetary role and the evaluation of the authorities performance. This role is essential for guarantying the good action of the institutions and for the development and evolution of the society. This, the absence of this goal from the press constitutes a deficiency in its role regarding its recent meanings and its right mission.
Translated by: Joyce Tary