Dr. Manal Abdel Samad Najd, the caretaker Minister of Information, expressed concern on Thursday for Lebanon’s grave situation. “Lebanon enjoys international support, particularly from Arab countries,” she said in an interview with Tele Liban, “but sadly, those involved maintain squabbling over the number of ministers at a time when the nation’s very existence is at danger.”
Abdel Samad went on to remark that Lebanon’s attendance at the League of Arab States’ Arab Information Ministers’ Conference was crucial.
“The importance of the Arab role, as well as Lebanon’s position within it, must be emphasized.
(…) We are disappointed to see the Syrian state’s place at the summit vacant, but the Palestinian issue remains the most pressing “Abdel Samad continued.
“We’ve proposed that recommendations be transformed into actions and translated into projects; our goal this year was the electronic media, which is witnessing great chaos, with a focus on its challenges,” she explained, pointing to the dwindling media revenues — as a result of reduced advertising that is being replaced by revenues benefiting major technology companies.
“Lebanese media and others are making a squandered financial profit, and it is vital to investigate. This necessitates the regulation of relationships with overseas technological firms.
Because these advertisements that benefit global technology are taken from the state’s treasury and media, it is necessary to discuss the financial profit of the state and the Lebanese treasury “Abdel Samad went on to say that taxes should be imposed on these revenues, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the Lebanese media.
Moreover, Minister Abdel Samad did not fail to capitalize on the pressing need to make certain that the content of social media abided by national and Arab laws. She also pointed to the social threats being posed by electronic games and sexual blackmail, noting that the latter has increased by approximately 800 percent, as per statistics conducted by the Internal Security Forces. “It is necessary to raise media awareness about these issues, especially about the risks arising from them,” she added.
As for her meetings on the sidelines of the Arab Information Ministers’ conference, she noted that among the projects that had been proposed was the establishment of direct broadcast between Egypt and Lebanon on topics of interest to Arab countries and societies, as well as the exchange of Arab news.
“The media structure in Egypt is important, and it is the media city that encourages attracting capital and media investments from abroad by securing incentives for producers. The focus in Lebanon should be on incentives through tax facilities given to media investors. The large media balance of both countries should encourage us to unite to implement joint production. This applies to the rest of the Arab countries; the Saudi Minister of Information has shown a great will to cooperate and help Lebanon’s media, as well as the Kuwait and the Emirates, whose media structure are also of great importance,” she added.
Abdel Samad then revealed the council’s consensus over two proposals that had been made by the Lebanese Ministry of Information to the League of Arab States.
“The first proposal is that of Beirut’s Humanitarian Award; its main objective stems from the memory of Beirut Port explosion, which shook the consciences and feelings of the world. The humanitarian award calls for truth and justice,” Abdel Samad explained.
“The second proposal, which is the declaration of Beirut as the capital of Arab media for the year 2023 is a great moral support for Lebanon and Beirut, and it has a strategic dimension. It declares Beirut as a center for Arab media, and it encourages investment in the media sectors. It also creates job opportunities for media professionals,” Abdel Samad concluded.