Policy briefing: after the Arab uprisings - prospects for a media that serves the public

Arab Spring (2010-) Public interest Mass media Libya Egypt Lebanon Syria

This briefing explores the evolving relationship between media and politics in the period following the Arab uprisings of 2011.

Overview: Over the past several years, the Arab world has been characterised by an increasingly polarised political discourse. ‘After the Arab uprisings: the prospects for a media that serves the public’ argues that national broadcasters have the potential to help to bridge some of these social divides if these institutions can be reformed to serve public, rather than state, interests. To make this case, the briefing looks at four countries undergoing political change - Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia – to examine the potential for national broadcasters to play a role that is more explicitly geared towards social cohesion.

The briefing finds that:

  • National broadcasters can fulfil a public service mission by instilling the twin public service values of universality and diversity into their programming, underpinned by a clear commitment to editorial independence.
  • Formats that enable inclusive dialogue, rational debate and clear and trusted information can, at least in theory, mitigate conflict by facilitating tolerance, mutual understanding and representation.
  • In all four cases, while the potential to deliver such programming is there, its ultimate realisation hinges critically on a politically enabling environment that does not, by and large, yet exist.
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