Libya takes first step towards creating media system

December 12, 2011

Libyan government representatives and civil society activists have announced a series of media principles and recommendations to the National Transitional Council.

The historic step toward creating a viable media system for the country was taken after the government-led Libyan delegation concluded a high-profile conference, the Media Vision for Libya: A Good Offices Conference, hosted by Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).

The principles and action items address the four pillars of governance, media economy, technological change and education training.

“After four decades of autocratic rule, Libya is now in a position to create an independent, national media system that meets the needs of its people,” Abdul Hafeedh Ghoga, Vice Chairman of the National Transitional Council, said.

“These principles and action items will serve as guideposts as we seek to put in place the type of media environment required by a vibrant, modern state. We are grateful to Northwestern University in Qatar and the many international experts who shared their insights during this unprecedented conference,” said Ghoga who headed the Libyan delegation and co-chaired the conference.

According to Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar, and the conference chair, the Libyan delegation has taken a very important first step toward deciding the type of media system they want for their nation.

“After much lively debate, and with contributions from leading experts in the fields of media, journalism, government, academia and the law, the Libyan representatives have reached initial consensus that will support a vibrant national media system,” he said. “Congratulations to the delegates for undertaking this difficult, but important task, and accomplishing so much in so short a period of time.”

NU-Q acted as an impartial third party in organizing the conference. The university, under the “good offices” structure, offered expertise and mediated debates, but did not advocate any policy position.

The Libyan delegation included Salem Gnan, NTC member for Nalut, in addition to leading figures from academia, media, government, journalism, local councils and legal organizations.

Outside expert participants included media economist Dr. Robert Picard, director of Research at the Reuters Institute, Oxford University, technology policy expert Dr. Robert Pepper, head of Government Affairs at Cisco Systems, and Joyce Barnathan, president of International Centre for Journalists.


Here are the principles to guide the transitional period and inform future decisions about media policy for Libya:

1. Libya should have a free, open, and independent media and communications system.

2. Private media should be permitted and encouraged.

3. The state regulator should become an independent regulator to direct technical, structural, and spectrum regulation, as well as to promote development of broadcasting and telecommunication services.

4. Control of content should be limited. Any limitations should be enacted by the parliament and adjudicated by an independent judiciary.

5. State media should be transformed into independent media operated as a public service trust and/or privatised.

6. There should be a robust system for media literacy and journalism education and training.


Recognising the need for action in the interim period and realities on the ground, the NTC should:

1. Promote and discuss these principles through a series of public forums and debates.

2. Create a vehicle to ensure the principles are embodied in the constitution and future legislation.

3. Establish and convene a consultative council of experts to advise on the advancement these principles.

4. Inventory and assess existing state media and communications infrastructure.

5. Grant temporary operating authority to existing broadcasters and electronic media, until an independent regulator is established.

6. Train journalists and people in civil society to professionally cover elections.

7. Journalism organisations should create a code of ethics for Libyan media.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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