NNA - A meeting was held on Monday at the National Media Council for the electronic press in Lebanon, in the presence of Minister of Information, Jamal Al-Jarrah, and Chairman of the National Council for Audiovisual Media, Abdel Hadi Mahfouz. The meeting had been an occasion to discuss the performance of Lebanon’s electronic press on the basis of media freedom, and the need to observe professional ethical rules and steer clear from incitement and rumors, as well as slander and defamation.
During the meeting, Mahfouz briefed attendees on the items of a protocol jointly devised by media websites in Lebanon, most important of which: 1- Avoidance to publish any material that provokes sectarian strife; 2- Not to publish any material that poses a threat to official institutions, especially military and security ones; 3- Forming an electronic press committee to coordinate with official institutions, especially those concerned with discussing the draft media law, which is being discussed at the House of Parliament; 4- Follow up the matter of privileges that can be obtained from some departments and official institutions; 5- Request of the National Media Council to provide workers in the electronic media sector with a special press card; 6- The necessity of taking the opinion of media websites committee regarding any new legislation involving these websites; 7- The establishment of a serious gathering of media websites to function in the form of a syndicate.
“This protocol was developed by the media websites themselves, and therefore there was an agreement on some kind of self-censorship by these sites,” Mahfouz added.
For his part, Minister Jarrah considered that freedom of information and expression was sacred and couldn’t be abandoned under any circumstances or event.
“Freedom is safeguarded, and freedom of expression is sacred in democratic regimes that seek a better state. The media is a key lever in transformation because it alerts and illuminates a place with imbalance and error,” Jarrah said.
He continued: "Today, in light of the global technological development and the proliferation of websites, we may one day reach further development in the electronic media at the technical, media and news levels so that we can only keep up with this development."
He went on to stress that there was a continuous relationship between the media and the state, as well as a branching relationship with the economy, politics and society. “Therefore, this relationship must be organized and clarified so as to safeguard the interests of all.”
“When I assumed my duties at the information ministry, I found that the ministry's relationship with electronic media was almost missing, hence we discussed with Mr. Mahfouz the best way to build a healthy relationship with the electronic press through dialogue,” the Minister added.
He called for "a round table to discuss the best for Lebanon, the media, and the press,” expressing confidence that "no one in the media seeks to ruin the country and distort or harm its image and its presidents.”
“The country endures an economic and financial crisis, either we go in the direction of deepening the gap or we can take a real and positive approach,” he added in his word to the electronic press representatives.
“We do not have to delve into negativity, especially that we have vast media capabilities that responsibly deal with analysis, advice, perception, and providing solutions. These capabilities can shed light on important issues, and the authority should listen to responsible media, which in turn bears its responsibility to preserve the country,” Jarrah added.