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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is MOM?

The “Media Ownership Monitor” (MOM) has been developed as a mapping tool in order to create a publicly available, continuously updated database that lists owners of all relevant mass media outlets - press, radio, television, and online media.

MOM aims to shed light on the risks to media pluralism caused by media ownership concentration (for more information: Methodology). In order to grasp the national characteristics and detect risk-enhancing or risk-reducing factors for media concentration, MOM also qualitatively assesses the market conditions and legal environment.

2. Who is behind MOM?

Since 2015, MOM has been incubated by Reporter ohne Grenzen e. V. – the German section of the international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), which aims to defend freedom of the press and the right to inform and be informed anywhere in the world.

In 2019, the project was spun-off to the Global Media Registry (GMR), an independent, non-for profit social enterprise registered under German law.

In 2018 in Lebanon, RSF worked with the Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF). The project was funded by the Federal German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).
In 2024, the project was renewed with "Global Media Registry" (GMR) to update all available information. New media organizations were added and new changes were noted regarding the concentration of media ownership in Lebanon between 2018 and 2024.

This project is possible due to the collective efforts and support of our researchers, managers, and funders, the last being the Dutch embassy. 

3. Where can I download this report?

The website affords a PDF download containing all website content. The PDF is automatically generated and thus updated on a daily base. It exists for all website languages. In order to generate the PDF, scroll down to the website footer, choose your preferred language and “Download complete website as PDF”.

4. Why is transparency of media ownership important?

Media pluralism is a key aspect of democratic societies as free, independent, and diverse media reflect divergent viewpoints and allow criticism of people in power. Risks to diversity of ideas are caused by media market concentration, when only a few players exert dominant influence on public opinion and raise entrance barriers for other players and perspectives (media ownership concentration). The biggest obstacle to fight it is lack of transparency of media ownership: How can people evaluate the reliability of information, if they don´t know who provides it? How can journalists work properly, if they don´t know who controls the company they work for? And how can media authorities address excessive media concentration, if they don´t know who is behind the media´s steering wheel? 

MOM thus aims to create transparency and to answer the question “who eventually controls media content?” in order to raise public awareness, to create a fact base for advocacy to hold political and economic players accountable for the existing conditions.

As we consider ownership transparency as a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism, we document the openness of media companies/outlets to provide information on their ownership structure. Considering their answers, we distinguish different levels of transparency – which is indicated for each media outlet and media company on their profile. 

Media owner’s motivation to remain hidden or even actively disguise their investments can vary from legitimate to illegal and be rooted in personal, legal or business-related reasons – or a mix thereof, in extreme cases even including criminal offenses like tax evasion or breaches of anti-trust laws.

Some of those reasons include the following:

  • In several countries, media ownership is restricted by law in order to avoid concentration. So if one individual wants to extend his or her media empire beyond these limits, proxy owners and/or shell companies registered abroad, even off-shore, are frequently being used.
  • Sometimes, media owners receive personal threats or face other dangers either originating from governments or competing businesses and therefore decide to remain unknown to protect themselves.
  • In many cases, media ownership is intertwined with undue political or economic interests, even more so if individuals are involved that hold a public office and who don’t want to disclose such a conflict of interests.
  • In rare cases, the disguise of media ownership happens unintentionally because over time and through mergers and acquisitions, corporate structures became so complex that the original beneficial owner is difficult to identify.
  • Last not least, there are ‘normal’ – i.e. non-media-related reasons for owners to hide, such as tax evasion.

5. What kind of concentration regulation does MOM suggest?

MOM doesn’t make normative statements – it doesn’t suggest how to regulate media ownership. Which form of media concentration regulation can work, depends on the country context, the existing legal and market conditions, the ownership landscape.

MOM provides a transparency tool to enforce a democratic discussion on that issue, as well as good governance: decisions are likely to be of higher quality and to better reflect the needs and wishes of the people if they have access to adequate information and broad consultations, with views and opinions freely shared. 

6. How is data collected and validated?

Preferably, official data sources, and/or sources with a high level of reliability and trust are used. Whenever not publicly available, information was directly requested of media companies, representatives of media institutions, the Ministry of Information, and research institutes. All sources are thoroughly documented and archived. Further information is available upon request at SKeyes. 

For TV, Radio and Print data, MOM used data from ELKA Lebanon primarily collected in February 2024. Audience data are available on request from the Samir Kassir Foundation. On the other hand, online data was unavailable, which demonstrates a shortcoming and need for further research. 

For information on media companies, the publicly available media outlet information was retrieved from the Lebanese commercial register, where any company operating in Lebanon has to register. Corporate details on shareholders, owners etc. were requested at the same register. It can be purchased for a fee. MOM would like to thank SEEDS for Legal Initiatives (https://legal-clinic.org) for the cooperation it provided in this field.


7. How is “most relevant media” defined?

The main question is: which media outlets influence the opinion-forming process? In order to scan all relevant media, we included all traditional media types (Print, Radio, TV, Online). The media were selected according to the following criteria:

  • MOM focused mostly on media with the highest reach, measured by audience share, as provided by ELKA Lebanon.
  • The news worthiness and opinion content. The study focuses on general information with a national focus. As such, media with specific thematic focus (music, sport, religion, etc.), social networks, search engines and advertisement were excluded.
  • The selection based on these criteria initially consisted, in year 2018, of an average of ten media outlets per media type (TV, radio, print, and online). In 2024, the work team added new media institutions, specifically in the digital media market, in addition to updating the institutions that were closed and the background of this closure. Shedding light on these most relevant media outlets already allows revealing tendencies in media concentration. More media outlets may be added according to their relevance in terms of their owner or their influence on public opinion (read more - “How are media outlets selected?”).

8. How are the media outlets selected?

TV stations were all selected as the Lebanese media market includes eight local TV stations, including the increasingly limited Future TV.

The selection of radio stations largely remained unchanged. In 2024, the work team added another station, which was Fajr Radio. They consist of Category A, i.e. political radio stations. 


For the newspapers selection, we included all nine printed dailies distributed in Lebanon, including the discontinued Al-Mustaqbal and the newly added Nidaa Al-Watan.


For the online market, we primarily selected news websites operating only online (“pure players”); partisan websites were looked at as they build up public opinion, in addition to alternative media primarily distributing content on social media. 

 

 

9. Why Lebanon?

A strong local partner organization such as the Samir Kassir Foundation’s SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom is the basis for a successful implementation and the most relevant selection criteria.

Lebanon ranks 140 (out of 180 countries) in the 2024 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which positions nations according to indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, rule of law, transparency, and abuses. This was due, according to the organization, to the fact that "the Lebanese media is groaning under the grip of political parties, in an environment where the media landscape reflects the country's political structure. One should note as well the media's heavy dependence on investors' money. Furthermore, the printed press reflects the political and sectarian differences taking place in the country, not to mention the religious censorship that obstructs the work of the media. Indeed, this has become an important weapon in the political struggle.

It is a country with a long tradition of privately-owned media, especially in the newspaper sector. Its relatively open and competitive political system has allowed for a wide diversity of opinion. However, the relative weak state institutions and limited culture of law enforcement have also meant that several aspects of media regulations, for example the online sector, do not exist. Lebanon is also a country where the proximity between political actors (individual politicians and political parties) and the media sector is very high: several media outlets were created by and still linked to political parties. This trend has started during the 1975-1990 civil war and continued in peace time.

10. Does the MOM only exist for Lebanon ?

MOM was developed as a generic methodology that can be universally applied – and potentially will be. Notwithstanding that media concentration trends are observable worldwide; implementation and analysis will first take place in developing countries. MOM has been implemented in around 21 countries over the course of three years. All country projects can be found on the global website.

11. What are the limitations of the study?

  • No economic data: Market concentration based on market share could not be calculated since complete and credible numbers were not available publicly. Some print outlets shared them on request, which is indicated in their Media outlet profile.
  • Official audience measurement data is not publicly available - it is being sold by research companies. The work team was able to obtain some information through reports and studies available as a result of a desktop research.
  • Although data for corporate ownership are available at the BRELA, accessing them can be costly and inconvenient. However, obtaining information requires a long period of time due to the regular strikes and the state of paralysis that afflicted the Palace of Justice in Lebanon.

12. Who do we target?

The database : 

  • allows each citizen to get informed on the media system in general;
  • creates a fact base for civil society’s advocacy efforts to further promote public consciousness on media ownership and concentration; 
  • serves as a point of reference for consulting competition authorities or governmental bodies when establishing suitable regulatory measures to safeguard media pluralism.

13. What happens next?

The database is a snapshot of the current situation, contextualized by historical facts. It will be updated regularly by the Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF).

14. Are there similar projects?

The Media Ownership Monitor is mainly inspired by two similar projects. Especially the indicators for a later ranking rely heavily on the EU-funded Media Pluralism Monitor of the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) at the European University Institute (EUI, Florence). Moreover, Media Pedia, an ownership database developed by investigative journalists in Macedonia served as inspiration for the Media Ownership Monitor. An overview over other similar projects can be found in the table below. 

ORGANIZATION

DESCRIPTION

Access Info 

A Spanish NGO that works in the field of media ownership transparency in several European countries.

Article 19

An NGO which works in the field of press freedom. It implements media concentration projects.

Deutsche Welle

The Media Freedom Navigator of Deutsche Welle provides an overview of different media freedom indices.

European Audiovisual Observatory

A database of television and audiovisual services in Europe.

European Journalism Center

 

The Website provides a summary and analysis of the state of the media in Europe and neighbouring countries.

 

European University Institute in Florence

The Media Pluralism Monitor assesses risks for media pluralism in the EU Member States.

IFEX

The network provides information of the state of the media in many countries.

IREX

The Media Sustainability Index (MSI) provides analyses of the conditions for independent media in 80 countries.

mediaUk

The Website provides information about media ownership in Great Britain.

Pew Research Center

The organisation publishes an interactive database about media in the United States.

SEENPM

Monitors media ownership and the impact on media pluralism in southeastern Europe and EU member states.

The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information at Columbia Business School

A research that works with authors from 30 countries in the world about media concentration using a common methodology.

The Institute for Media and Communication Policy

A database of international corporations of the world´s biggest media.

UNESCO

Media Development Indicators - A framework for assessing media development.

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