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Reuters Institute expert helps Libya take step towards independent media

RISJ Admin

Contributing Author

The transformation of the authoritarian state-run media system in Libya towards an open media system progressed this week in a meeting advised by Robert G. Picard, Research Director of the Reuters Institute.Picard, who is an expert on media economics, was part of a team of advisors that included Prof. Everette Dennis, a media law expert from Northwestern University Doha; Dr. Robert Pepper, a technology policy expert formerly at the FCC, who is head of Government Affairs at Cisco Systems; and Joyce Barnathan, a journalism training specialist who is president of the International Centre for Journalists.
The meeting in Doha, Qatar, was chaired by Abdul Hafeedh Ghoga, vice chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), and brought members of the NTC media committee and leading figures from Libyan academia, media, and local councils together to help fashion principles for the media transition.
“The group was particularly interested in alternatives for their media system and what the advantages and disadvantages the different options available to them provide,” Picard said. “They clearly want to create a less controlled system and were very interested in finding ways to organize broadcasting and print industries that support that goal.”
The group established broad policies to guide interim government and inform decisions of the new government after elections schedule for 2012. The guiding principles include provisions that:
Libya should have a free, open, and independent media and communications system.
Private media should be permitted and encouraged.
The state regulator should become an independent regulator to direct technical, structural, and spectrum regulation, as well as to promote development of broadcasting and telecommunication services.
Control of content should be limited. Any limitations should be enacted by the parliament and adjudicated by an independent judiciary.
State media should be transformed into independent media operated as a public service trust and/or privatised.
The NTC expects to establish a consultative committee of experts to help them develop the structures and policies to implement the principles and to seek assistance to train journalists how to cover elections and operate in an open media system.