Restrictions on Broadcasting: In Whose Interest?

Lebanon's airwaves had long been unregulated, with scores of unlicensed private broadcasters that ranged in political diversity from the radio station of the Lebanese Communist Party to the television station of Hizballah. The broadcasting community included 52 television stations and over 120 radio stations for a population of three million. While it is widely acknowledged that states have the authority to regulate broadcasting through a licensing system, freedom of expression, including expression of a range of political opinion, must not be sacrificed in the process. In Lebanon, the fact that the sole decision-making power to license television and radio stations rests with the Hariri cabinet, without the oversite of any independent regulatory agency, raises serious concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the licensing process.

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