(Maharat Foundation/IFEX) - 2 November 2009 - Maharat Foundation organized a roundtable session at the Meridian Hotel on 29 October at 10 a.m. during which the results of the group's study on media coverage of the parliamentary elections in Lebanon (June 2009) were revealed. The study was prepared by lawyer Tony Mikhael, Dr. Georges Sadaka and Dr. Ali Rammal.
The roundtable session was conducted in the presence of the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ziad Baroud, the representative of the Minister of Information, Dr. Hassan Falha, M.P. Ghassan Mkhaiber, representatives of Lebanese civil society and media institutions and international organizations.
The study mainly attempted to assess the performance of media institutions during the elections, based on the new media law number 25, issued on 8 October 2008, which specified the standards of news and advertisement coverage for media institutions. The law carried new rules for media coverage in an attempt to ensure balance between all candidates and to prevent the transformation of institutions into promotional tools for specific parties, in addition to trying to find solutions for the high rate of affiliation of these institutions to political or financial powers. For this reason, the law explicitly called for all media institutions to ensure "equity, balance, and objectivity between all candidates" and to abstain from slander, defamation, demeaning, and provoking ethnic or religious sentiments in addition to abstaining from terrorizing others or accusing others of being traitors.
The study endeavoured to assess the level of commitment of media institutions to the clauses of the new law, and the extent to which the new law succeeded in changing the current situation.
The study was based on an analysis of media content through an internationally-applied methodology, whereby a Lebanese teamwork was trained by experts from Maharat Foundation in addition to experts from International Media Support.
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