Satellite Television from
A Preliminary Look at the Players
By Marwan M. Kraidy
Lebanon's Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) and Future TV
satellite broadcasts are popular with Arab audiences. After unlicensed broadcasting
proliferated during the 1974-1990 war, the Audio-Visual Law of 1994 regulated
all broadcasting activities and sanctioned satellite broadcasting, which LBCI
and Future began in 1996. The two stations appear to have similar programming
grids, but preliminary research reveals political, administrative and programming
differences between them. Whereas Future, owned by the Lebanese prime minister,
remains loyal to the government he leads, LBCI newscasts criticize the regime's
authoritarian dealing with the media. Besides, LBCI is a public company with a
board of directors representing the company's shareholding base and holding its
leadership accountable. Future, on the other hand, appears to be a financial autocracy
supported by Prime Minister Hariri's virtually unlimited financial resources.
Subtle programming differences can also be discerned between the two stations;
LBCI is said to offer Arab audiences Western programs in Arabic while Future provides
Western-looking Arab programs. Future research should focus on the performance
of Lebanon's satellite broadcasters in terms of political bias, programming flavor,
commercial performance and audience.
Marwan M. Kraidy
(Ph.D. Ohio University, 1996) is an assistant professor in the School of Communication
at the University of North Dakota, where he teaches international communication,
emerging media technologies, popular culture and media theory, research and criticism.
He has written on international media, the globalization of culture, film criticism,
and media and culture in Lebanon, his native country. His research interests include
developing a theory of "glocalization" and cultural and political consequences
of satellite television in the Middle East.