The Lebanese TV channels scene is almost as diverse as the Lebanese society itself.
But seldom do the programs of these channels reflect the deep cultural and intellectual wealth of the country—Call that the “new reality” of TV channels in Lebanon, or maybe just Lebanon‘s semi-official “Reality TV” channels.
Today’s post will explore the reasons why it is the case, while offering you a “Who’s Who” scenic glimpse of the Lebanese Arabic TV channels…
♦ LBC and MBC:“Kissing Cousins” of the Middle East Channels:
LBC’s owner, Lebanese Pierre Daher, has for some time concluded business ventures with two major Saudi-controled groups: The London-based newspaper الحيــــــــاة (“Al-Hayat“, meaning “Life” in Arabic), and the Rotana Group.
In more recent years, Daher was summoned by a host of Christian Lebanese groups to surrender the reins of LBC to the well-known Lebanese politician Samir Geagea, after the release of the latter from prison thanks to “ثورة الأرز” (the “Cedar Revolution.“) But to this day, Daher is adamant in his refusal to do so.Just like MBC, its “Saudi cousin”, which co-features “Arabs Got Talent“, LBC’s programs heavily rely on “light entertainment.”
One such “light entertainment” programs airing jointly on MBC and LBC is “Arab Idol“, which is sometimes mocked by Facebook and Youtube critics as “الصنـــــم العربــــي“, taking the word “idol” in its quite literal sense, which in this case would not refer to the young promising singers competing at the show, but rather to the ancient “totemic idols” (plural: الأصنــــــــــام) worshipped in the Arab Peninsula before the advent of Islam!
♦ Future TV: Back to the “Futile” 2:
Also opposite to the proselytizing media outlook of Al Manar is “Future TV.” It is ideologically close to the political movement headed by Saad Hariri, the younger son of the late Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Saad also controls the Lebanese newspaper المُستقبـــــــــل (“Al Mustaqbal“, which you won’t be surprised to learn that it simply means “Future” in Arabic.)
It was Future TV who had launched “Super Star“, eight years ago, which would then be bought by the two “kissing cousins”, MBC and LBC, to be rebaptized “Arab Idol.”
♦ Al Jaras TV: “Rings a Bell”?:
Another Lebanese channel is الجــــــــرس (“Al Jaras“, Arabic for “Bell“), famous for offering nothing but “Reality TV” shows.
Al Jaras was launched by Nidhal Al Ahmadia, Lebanon’s shrewd businesswoman. She is often portrayed as the archnemesis of Lebanese “diva-wannabe” Haifa Wehbe…
♦ Orange TV: A Network of “General Content”:
Orange TV is the property of a Maronite, former army chief of staff and ex-Prime Minister General Michel Aoun. Unlike the LBC and the Samir Geagea current, Michel Aoun maintains a very close relationship with Hezbollah.
♦ Lebanon’s MTV:
Lebanon also boasts its own MTV. But unlike the famous American channel, the “M” stands for “المـــر“, or “Murr“, namely the family who owns it.
A high-profile relative of the Murr family is Nayla Tueni, of the Tueni family, founders and still publishers of the well-known Lebanese daily newspaper النَّهـــــــــــار (“An-Nahar“, meaning “The Day“)
Lebanese newspaper “النَّهـــــــــــار” (An-Nahar) quickly flashes on Neo’s computer in the opening scene of the 1999 movie “The Matrix” (Neo is played by Lebanon-born actor Keanu Reeves)
Nayla’s father is the renown Lebanese politician Gabriel Tueni, who was assassinated in exactly the same year (2005) and in the same way (a car bomb) as both former PM Rafiq Hariri and former An-Nahar journalist Samir Qassir. The latter was married to Al Arabiya talk show host, Giselle Khoury, while Naila has recently married LBC talk show host Malek Maktaby.
♦ Al Jadeed TV: New Network, Same Old Censorship:
Also known on the Lebanese TV scene is Al Jadeed channel (Arabic for “New.”) It ran a few documentaries that did not exactly go too soft on some members of the Saudi royal family. It was consequently censored several times by the Hariri-led government. A fact which came as a little surprise, since the Hariris owe their fortune to the strong business ties that link then to the Saudi dynasty.
In a last development, it was reported last month that a cameraman working for Al Jadeed was a victim of a fatal sniper shot while he was covering the ongoing Syrian crisis.