Issue No. 1
Fall 1998
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Satellite Television from Lebanon:
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.

Copyright 1998 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
TBS is published by the Adham Center for Television Journalism, the American University in Cairo