The Beirut-based Maharat Foundation just published its 3rd monitoring report on election coverage by local television stations for January 2022. The report is based on its monitoring of the Lebanese TV stations, their news bulletins, and talk shows.
The women-led Maharat Foundation works to defend democratic aspects of societies as well as freedom of speech in Lebanon and the MENA. It aims to create change by engaging and equipping a progressive community with the needed knowledge and skills.
In partnership with UNESCO, Maharat’s monitoring program seeks to shed the light on the May 2022 parliamentary elections in the context of building democracy and public freedoms by monitoring the Lebanese media.
Maharat explains that the monitoring process progresses by “the attention given to the electoral process, the space of coverage in news bulletins and talk shows, the parties benefiting from the media space, the space given to electoral education and the role of women, the position of Lebanese parties in the coverage, and others.”
Accordingly, Maharat recorded that electoral education is absent in local TV stations, with only 1% of electoral awareness.
“The percentage of space allocated for following up on the preparations for the elections according to the requirements and entitlements of the electoral calendar was 7%,” the study reported.
As for the other spaces, the report indicated, that “92% approached other topics related to the elections, such as campaigns, positions, activities, opinions, figures, and analyses related to the elections.”
The report also revealed the absence of Lebanese officials responsible for the elections like the Ministry of the Interior & Municipalities, and the Election Supervision Commission.
During the monitoring, Maharat observed that TV stations gave traditional politicians the most coverage, followed by analysts and electoral experts, and then the emerging political groups, candidates, and activists.
The traditional political parties still dominate the media scene and “enjoy the largest space of news coverage and of talk shows on these stations, which calls into question how the emerging parties and change movements can define themselves and present their vision for change.”
Unsurprisingly, the male dominance in the political and media scenes was strikingly evident. “The share of women on these stations is still marginal and does not exceed 10%”, Maharat noted, adding that the “women’s quota only received 0.05% of the news and dialogue content.”
Overall, this brings to question the willingness of the TV stations to contribute their part in the must-needed change the people in Lebanon are seeking in the coming Elections 2022.