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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

SKF Launches 2024 Lebanon Media Ownership Monitor

Tuesday , 28 May 2024

The Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) launched on Monday, May 27, 2024, the 2024 edition of Lebanon’s Media Ownership Monitor (MOM), in partnership with Global Media Registry (GMR) and the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

MOM is an endeavor to shed light on the ownership structure of the media landscape, based on a sample of 37 outlets in the television, radio, print, and online sectors. It includes a database of individual owners and companies involved in the media sector, and provides analysis on market concentration, pluralism, and the regulatory framework.

SKF believes that ownership transparency is key to better understand the media scene, how narratives are built, and accordingly, assess the level of editorial independence in the country. Our study reveals some noteworthy findings

  • Around 90% of the media outlets insist on hiding their sources of funding, which are rarely linked to advertisements or production revenues. 
  • Only four media outlets (11% of the sample) were actively transparent in disclosing their ownership and funding: the state-owned Radio Liban, the print and online paper L’Orient-Le Jour, and two online independent media outlets: Daraj Media and Megaphone News.
  • Passive transparency was also low (8.6%). Passive transparency refers to outlets that provided information in response to our request.
  • For the majority of media outlets (68.5%), data was publicly available at the Commercial Register. However, the quality of the official company profiles was poor and data was often obviously outdated, with changes in ownership not recorded, despite the outreach efforts of researchers in SKF and our partners in SEEDS for Legal Initiative.
  • Over 80% of the media outlets are linked, through shares and ownership, to the Lebanese political class, including those in legislative or executive roles. Additionally, more than 70% of the media owners on our list are associated with elected or appointed politicians, including members of parliament, ministers, or party leaders.
  • Nearly half of online media and social media-dependent outlets maintain political independence. Nevertheless, they have become heavily reliant on international funding from INGOs and state-sponsored organizations, which renders their sustainability dependent on constantly evolving funding levels and priorities. 
  • Finally, while the online sphere has provided a more diverse universe of outlets and digital sources of information with the rise of social media, television, radio, and print newspapers remain vulnerable to the pressures of an increasingly precarious market, in addition to a turbulent and repressive political environment. This translates in a significant loss of advertising revenues, and the increase in politically co-opted funding opportunities.

The MOM website is a step forward in the pursuit of accountability and transparency in a country where impunity and concealment have become the norm. SKF is committed to updating the information displayed on the MOM website should new developments occur in the sector and media outlets provide more updated information about their ownership and funding structures.

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