Are Lebanon's Media fanning the flames of sectarianism?
Asked about the Media Council’s statements, Munla went on the offensive.
“Lebanon is not going through normal times so to assume or imply international criteria on Lebanese media during abnormal times is unfair,” he said.
Munla thinks the media council is “hypocritical” to call on TV channels to curb sectarianism, saying the council needs to start with themselves before pointing the finger at others, given that some members are involved in the local newspaper market.
“They are political appointees. It is not impartial so I don’t want a lecture on how to do business,” he said.
Nonetheless, Munla stated that the media should be at the forefront of change in Lebanon.
“I think Lebanon is fighting for its independence, and the media cannot just be an observer of these developments. It should be the spearhead for change and we are proud that we are playing this role,” he said.
Indeed, some video montages on TV are aimed at discouraging sectarianism and violence.
One montage on Al Manar showed a clock ticking back from 2007 to 1975, the year the civil war started. Attached to the clock were images from the January clashes as well as archive footage, ending with "Let's not go back" in Arabic.
On the pro-government channels a series of adverts saying "I Love Life," part of a massive nationwide ad campaign, have been aired.
Tensions are not expected to ease any time soon though, with Future TV to launch a 24-hour news channel and Michel Aoun's party to launch Orange TV (OTV) later this year.
To the Future
Future TV expects to launch its new channel in the next month, “unless there are more unseen events,” said Munla.
The new channel is part of a major restructuring at Future, with new content on the entertainment channel and sales directed more at the Gulf region.
“The last pillar of change was to introduce a 24-hour news channel, the main reason being that in the last two years we allocated more time to cover the news and current affairs,” said Munla.
He said the channel had regularly violated the time allocated to news, earmarked at 20% of broadcast time, due to Lebanon’s turbulent politics.
“That affected our viewing base, and adversely affected our entertainment channel, so we will have a 24-hour news channel,” he added.
- Lebanese women journalists brave war odds - Magda Abu-Fadil
- From Long Island to Lebanon: Arab blogs in America - Vivian Salama
- Bombs and broadcasts: Al Manar's battle to stay on air - Paul Cochrane
 “Media council chief cites perils of 'tense rhetoric,'” The Daily Star, January 30, 2007
 As of going to press, the opposition is still camped out in Martyrs’ Square.
 The TV landscape reflects that of the sectarian political system: Future is a Sunni channel, LBC is Christian, Al Manar is backed by Shiite political party Hezbollah, and NBN is partially backed by Shiite parliamentary speaker and head of the Amal movement Nabih Berri.
 “New TV journalists held for past month on theft charges,”Reporters Without Borders, 19 January 2007 - http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=20486
 “Two TV journalists freed on bail after 44 days in prison,” Reporters Without Borders, 31 January 2007 - http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=20486
 Martyrs’ Square is divided in two by barbwire and army checkpoints, with the upper half and the Riad El Solh square area occupied by the opposition.
 No comparison can be drawn with Al Manar’s headquarters as it was completely destroyed in the July war. Operations are now divided into several underground locations. Security has also been seriously upgraded, with biometric hand scans for employees on entry
 Nadim Munla has been replaced by Samir Hammoud, an executive at Bank Med, also controlled by the Hariri family; see “Radio Orient goes global with landmark plan to begin satellite broadcasting”, The Daily Star March 3, 2007
 See “The ‘Lebanonization’ of the Iraqi Media: An overview of Iraq’s television landscape,” P. Cochrane, Transnational Broadcasting Studies, Volume 2, Number 1.