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Africa

Libya/Germany: Transformation of the media system

Libya is facing far-reaching changes. One that will have a major impact is the reshaping of its media sector. Media and government decision-makers are currently visiting DW to learn about Germany's own experiences.

Reda Fhelboum is an editor and program host at the "Libya International" television station. His weekly program analyzes political developments in the country. He'd like to see a fair reorganization of the media sector, "and in order to achieve this, we need to understand how media regulation works," he says. "We can certainly learn from Germany’s expertise and experiences."

Reda Fhelboum at DW Akademie in Bonn (photo: DW Akademie / Charlotte Hauswedell).

Reda Fhelboum, Libya International

Fhelboum is one of 10 delegates who are spending a week with DW Akademie and other media organizations. The delegates are all decision-makers and include representatives of the Ministry of Culture, state secretaries, parliamentarians and heads of programming at large broadcasting companies. They play a decisive role in the current transformation process.

The visit is part of the DW Akademie project "Role and future of public broadcasting in a democracy". For more than 40 years Libyans had no access to free and independent information. But after the overthrow of the Muammar Gaddafi regime the system of censorship and misinformation collapsed overnight. Journalists are now able to report freely and the public has unrestricted access to news. This, however, also presents a challenge. It raises fundamental questions including the state's role vis à vis the media, media regulations and journalistic ethics and responsibilities.

High interest in the German transformation process

Martin Hilbert, DW Akademie (photo: DW Akademie / Charlotte Hauswedell).

Martin Hilbert, DW Akademie

It currently remains unclear as to the shape the new media system will take. Several models are currently being discussed. In June representatives of the National Transitional Council told DW Akademie that they were interested in a public broadcasting system.

According to project coordinator Martin Hilbert, "They're very interested in various models. Libyans want a media system where they can freely voice opinions, and that's why it's so important to be defining ethical standards at the same time." Hilbert says developments so far look promising. "Media regulation and responsibility are being taken seriously and I see great potential in a stable democracy there."

The visit follows up on a symposium held in November in Tripoli. At the symposium representatives from DW Akademie, the German broadcaster Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR - located in the former East Germany) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) presented key aspects of public broadcasting systems. The audience was particularly interested in MDR's transformation process following reunification and in how perpetrators and supporters were then dealt with.

"Members of the director-generals' offices, heads of programming, and government circles discussed at length how the employees of Libya's former state apparatus should be treated. They see Germans as experts in this process," says Hilbert.

This question will also be the focus of the delegate's visit to the MDR, where coming to terms with the East German past remains very present. A visit to Czech Radio in Prague will also add insight into European experiences in transforming media sectors.

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