Controlling information: the LBC case

Al-Akhbar ran a front page story Saturday on the struggle between Lebanese Forces (LF) chief Samir Geagea and LBC’s nbr 1 Pierre el Daher to control the TV station. It seems that since Geagea went to jail in 1994 (after Walid Jumblatt accused him of blowing up the Saydet el Najat church mind you), LBC went to Suleiman Franjieh and other Christian influential people. At the time, Pierre el Daher who already had problems of cohabitation with Geagea’s team within the station asked if he could transfer the channel to Franjieh (in an apparent move to rescue the channel) and the latter said yes. After the transfer took place, the channel continued to be partly financed by business elites close to the LF through Sitrida (the flamboyant wife of Samir) in order to keep a partial hand on things.

So much so that today, Geagea is increasingly in conflict with Daher (now that the former is out of prison) and is trying to interfere in the broadcasting of several sensitive political programs (like neutralizing Marcel Ghanem, although I don’t know why because as far as I can tell, the latter talks like a Zionist). Geagea has already a plethora of influential journalists sympathizers at LBC (like the half-martyr May Chidiac) who easily downgrade the actions of say Hezbollah, and can sometimes be found to be apologists of Israeli actions in the country. The Hariri backed tv station Al Mustaqbal is not better, although it is much more interesting in the fact that its strategy of downgrading is really different. Instead of criticizing the party of god it just ignores it. It does not mention it. I remember that during the war, and in its immediate aftermath, a battle was mentioned on Al Mustaqbal, a victory too, but the only party involved in this apart from the Israelis was “the Lebanese”. No resistance group, no party whatsoever. It looked really funny, especially when it had those weird Rafic Hariri intermissions of nationalistic statements coming from outre-tombe monopolizing the lead of the battle.

A part from the fact that our TV stations are pure propaganda feed. Each channel has political backers behind it. Mustaqbal has Hariri, NBC has speaker of parliament Nabih Berri, Ntv has Lahoudist (if not Lahoud himself) and of course Hezbollah’s Al Manar being obviously very open about its affiliations. Well, to make a long story short, the battle to control the information outlets in the little country is clearly not over. Here also Lebanon serves as a very good example of a microcosm of the world at large. In order to control, you need guns but you also need the reins of information channels (covert and overt). The latter asset enables you to control the means of discourse, in which conceptual framework your understanding of social reality takes place.

One note though: it is interesting to see that the other shareholders of LBC were from Christian upper class circles including from someone who had his whole family killed by Geagea (Suleiman Franjieh). I mean this is crazy. The world is that small in Lebanon that the son of the guy you killed takes over the company you founded. That does not happen everywhere to say the least. While we pointed out how Lebanon looks like any other place in the world, in this case, it is Lebanese particularism we’re reaching for.

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2 Replies to “Controlling information: the LBC case”

  1. Small coincidence, or not? I was just watching the LBC Basmet Watan crew do a send up of Franjieh singing his own version of Haifa’s “Wawa” ditty. Funny (by Lebanese standards anyway), but disturbing in the sense that it captures what you’re saying about the Geagea-Franjieh battle (behind, above, all over the scene) in one small sketch.

    Interested to know your take on Basmet Watan generally & the curfuffle around the Nasrallah sketch (which I didn’t see) in particular. If you’ve posted about it already, please point me in the right direction.

    Aren’t the majority shareholders in LBC-Sat Saudi? How do you think the Lebanese particularism, as you call it, interplays with regional interests? It’s quite clear that behind every Lebanese media mogul/ za3eem is one kingdom or another. An Orientalist’s wet-dream really, of treasonous tale within tragicomic tale within epic tale of conquest & empire. No wonder Bernard Lewis never tires (thankfully, neither does Prof As’ad).

  2. Interested to know your take on Basmet Watan generally & the curfuffle around the Nasrallah sketch

    well to tell you the truth i did not see the sketch either at that time. but i think the whole thing is of course overblown. Hezbollah sympathizer should not just get excited everytime something is said on their leaders. But that’s the way the street functions. I think Nasrallah can caricaturized if they wish so. And I don’t think Nasrallah would have a problem with that. He has other more important things to ponder on.

    In any case, Basmet Watan is the least funny program i have ever seen, a sort of wanna be “Slchi”.

    Aren’t the majority shareholders in LBC-Sat Saudi
    they are. although some backed off recently.

    How do you think the Lebanese particularism, as you call it, interplays with regional interests?

    I don’t if i completely got what you’re saying but each lebanese has a sponsor. a regional one. or an occupying force in the region.

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