To the Lebanese Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss , the Lebanon's controversial private radio stations are more dangerous than guns and rockets.
To the Lebanese Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss , the Lebanon's controversial private radio stations are more dangerous than guns and rockets. The people who run them believe they are instruments in the service of truth. In the Lebanon, radio stations are seen as an alternative to official information. But the government is committed to closing them down.
SYNOPSIS: This Beirut building, damaged by bombs, is the home of the most powerful station, the right-wing Falangists' "Voice of Lebanon".
The government, which runs its own "Radio Lebanon", announced in October that it would close down the party-affiliated radio stations which were established during the 1975-76 civil war. Then listeners had a choice of a dozen stations. Now there are four. But since that announcement, the Falangist station has boosted its transmission power and introduced a shortwave broadcast beamed to Lebanese abroad.
"And now the security situation", is a Falangist radio phrase as familiar to listeners in Lebanon, as "and now the weather" is to listeners in other countries.
The Falangists radio's programming blend of pop music, news and views, the latter fiercely anti-Syrian, have made it popular, even outside the Christian areas of Lebanon, where the Christian based rightist militias have been fighting Syrian troops.
The Lebanese Prime Minster is quoted as saying that the private radio stations may be more dangerous than weapons and roadblocks. He went on to say that it would be no use to stop sniping and shelling if what he called the radio snipers and radio artillery remain active.
Shortwave transmissions are made in five languages daily from the government run Radio Beirut. But the station is frequently occupied with putting out denials or corrections to reports carried by other party affiliated stations.
The latest decision to move against other stations was taken at the seven nation Beit-Ed-Dine conference. One of the provisions of a peace programme was to end all information campaigns and prohibit all illegal publications and audio-visual media. Despite this the stations continue to flourish.
Helen Jehah is an Australian. Each morning she introduces a popular music programme on Radio Beirut. But the audience of the official Lebanese station is estimated to be relatively small. According to Reuters News Agency, the official version of events often comes complete with verbatim reading of communiques by the Syrian-dominated Arab League Peace Force and listener response is understood to e less than overwhelming. Meanwhile the Prime Minister remains committed to closing the competition down, as committed as the so-called illegal stations are to staying alive.