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Applying DW Akademie’s Media Viability Indicators (MVIs), this study assesses the financial sustainability and the quality of journalistic content and production in Lebanon, a politically and religiously diverse country.
In the first study of its kind, DW Akademie applied its Media Viability Indicators (MVIs) in Lebanon. "Media Viability in Lebanon" assesses the financial sustainability as well as the quality of journalistic content and production in Lebanon (download a PDF of the study below). Although the data used for this report were collected in 2019 and thus do not take into account more recent developments, the results are still relevant and designed to inform media development projects in the country.
According to the media experts interviewed for this report, Lebanon faces severe challenges in four of the five dimensions of the MVIs: politics, economics, community, and content and expertise. The technology dimension, however, fares very well with its sophisticated technological infrastructure and digital expertise.
In Lebanon, news media viability is systemically hindered by several aspects, including:
– the political partisanship of the media;
– a general lack of sustainable business models that can be viewed as positive examples;
– an oversaturated and hypercompetitive media market resulting in lowered quality of content;
– too little competition in the advertisement market;
– non-transparent media ownership and funding (including foreign direct funding);
– much of the audiences consuming news content only from media within their "ideological bubbles" based on political or religious interests.
Ann Hollifield, author of the report, suggested that news media viability in Lebanon can best be improved by working towards a less over-crowded media market, reducing foreign direct funding with political aims, establishing sustainable business models, and supporting more independent and free conditions for the production of quality news content.
"The result marks a milestone – as this study provides a proof of principle. It shows that the MVIs can be successfully applied and that they lead to new and relevant findings," wrote DW Akademie’s Jan Lublinski and Laura Moore, who commissioned the report.
DW Akademie has been systematically building up its media viability projects in the Global South with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The goal is to provide tools that help media organizations address their viability challenges as well as to assess the viability of entire media systems. This, too, is crucial for media managers striving to run their businesses, media development experts designing projects, donors in the field of media, good governance and human rights deciding what projects to support, and academics aiming to understand media landscapes in a nuanced way.
The MVIs have already informed assessments by international media development organizations, including BBC Media Action (as part of the PRIMED initiative) and Internews.