The Libyan government is aiming to reform its state broadcasting system. In June, the country's interim president, Dr. Giuma Atigha, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Deutsche Welle's DW Akademie.
The Memorandum provides for the transition of the country's state broadcasting system to a public one. German experts will be traveling to Libya to advise the state broadcasting stations Al Wataniya and Libya Rasmiya, as well as the media commission. "German expertise is in high demand within the country's media sector," says DW Akademie director, Gerda Meuer. "This is partly due to Germany's own history but also because DW Akademie has been involved in media development for close to 50 years." DW Akademie is currently supporting the development of dynamic media sectors in other countries as well, including Tunisia and Myanmar.
50 years of media development
As laid out in the agreement, DW Akademie will initially be advising managers of state broadcasters, training journalists and editors, and supporting program development. This ties in with previous projects. "We began working in Libya in September 2011," says Martin Hilbert, coordinator of DW Akademie's Libyan projects. "Since then we've worked with journalists and managers in local stations spread throughout the country." Last year DW Akademie organized a symposium in Tripoli for politicians, media managers and members of civil society. The focus was on the role and function of public broadcasters. At the end of 2012, DW Akademie also invited a Libyan delegation to visit Bonn, Berlin, Halle and Prague to learn more about transition processes for broadcasters facing a post-dictatorship era.
"This made an impact," says Hilbert, "because Libyans are particularly interested in the German experience. After all, within the last 60 years we've gone through two major transitions ourselves: the end of the Nazi dictatorship and the collapse of East Germany." A key issue for the Libyans, says Hilbert, will be how to deal with former Gadhafi supporters who until recently headed the country's media sector.
A framework for public broadcasting
"We can contribute to long-term changes in the media sector," says Gerda Meuer. The memorandum is a significant step, "because it shows that Libya's parliament is serious about creating a framework for public broadcasting. And that is one of the cornerstones of a democracy."
Libya is currently writing a new constitution that is also to enshrine a public media sector.
DW Akademie's projects in Libya have to date been co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, the German Foreign Office and the European Union. Costs for transforming the state broadcaster are to be largely carried by the broadcaster itself.