Libya to work on unification of media, ending incitement

“Let our media be the media of peace, reconciliation, unity, development and stability,” said the head of the Libyan Media Foundation Mohammed Bayo.
Monday 08/02/2021
The head of the Libyan Media Foundation, Mohammed Bayo. (facebook)
The head of the Libyan Media Foundation, Mohammed Bayo. (facebook)

Tripoli – The head of the Libyan Media Foundation, Mohammed Bayo, announced the start of work to unify public and private media as the country entered a new transitional phase after the election of a unified interim executive authority.

“Let our media be the media of peace, reconciliation, unity, development and stability,” Bayo wrote in a post on Facebook.

Libya’s radio and television media have for years been mired in chaos, under the thumb of political and tribal protagonists who used them to strike at social peace and incite violence, leading to wider social rifts and divisions in the country.

Local and international reports have documented various  professional violations committed by private Libyan media outlets. Many had no transparent news sourcing or funding, including TV channels broadcasting from Libya and abroad and that have been used to influence public opinion and ratchet up violence and vindictiveness.

This history poses a challenge to the media unification plan. In previous statements, Bayo explained the kind of obstacles faced by the country’s media landscape. “Talking about peace media is not just a slogan, as modifying the discourse requires setting standards and encouraging those who call for peace media and expanding the circle of influence of peace media against war or calls for war,” he said.

Media that broadcast from outside Libya are considered a hindrance to the concept of peace media. The challenge is compelling them to stop incitement and bellicose narratives.

Journalists call for sanctions to be imposed on media outlets and social media platforms that practice incitement in addition to the establishment of a truly effective national observatory to monitor cases of incitement to violence.

Reports indicate that Libya has recently witnessed an unprecedented increase in disinformation on and outside social media, which has fueled the conflict. This makes it necessary to try to establish a reliable and professional press as a counterweight to fabrications, incitement and hate speech.

Libyan journalists protest to denounce violence against journalists, on January 20, 2019 in the Libyan capital Tripoli. (AFP)
Libyan journalists protest to denounce violence against journalists, on January 20, 2019 in the Libyan capital Tripoli. (AFP)

Last week, Bayo announced a decision to establish the Libya Radio and Television Network (TAL), headquartered in Tripoli and with branches in Benghazi and Sabha. Local and international affilates will be created as needed. A unified budget will be allocated for this purpose.

The network is to include all audio-visual channels and radio stations under the umbrella of the Libyan Media Corporation. It will be funded by the public treasury and known as government media.

This network’s establishment aims to unify the management of national Libyan media units and to integrate the human capabilities, expertise and technical knowhow of the TV channels and radio stations. The goal will be to enhance their performance and define the media and visual identity for each of them.

Libyan journalists hope that officials will soon work to protect independent media and bring perpetrators of crimes against journalists to justice. This will hopefully help journalists carry out their work without fear of violence, censorship or the threat of prosecution based on false allegations and unfounded charges.  There is also work to be done to remove obstacles that hinder foreign journalists from carrying out their professional duties in Libya.

Libya ranked 13th in the Arab world and 164th in the world, according to a 2020 report by Reporters Without Borders, a decline from 2019 when it ranked 162.