Libya Takes Historic First Step Toward a National Media System

December 11, 2011


Delegates Announce a Consensus on Principles and Action Items for Recommendation to the National Transitional Council at “Good Offices Conference” Hosted by Northwestern University in Qatar

Doha, Qatar, Sunday, December 11, 2011:  Today representatives of the new Libyan government and members of civil society took a historic first step toward the ultimate goal of creating a viable media system for the country.

A government-led Libyan delegation concluded the “Media Vision for Libya: A Good Offices Conference,” which was hosted by Northwestern University in Qatar, by announcing a consensus on principles and action items for recommendation to the National Transitional Council.  Those principles and action items, which address four main pillars that include governance, media economy, technological change, and education training, will be expanded into a full report to be published in 2012.

“After four decades of autocratic rule, Libya is now in a position to create an independent, national media system that meets the needs of its people,” said Abdulhafeedh Ghoga, Vice Chairman of the National Transitional Council, who was also conference co-chair and head of the Libyan delegation. “These principles and action items will serve as guideposts as we seek to put in place the type of media environment required by a vibrant, modern state.  Thanks to Northwestern University in Qatar, Dr. Dennis, and the many international experts who shared their insights during this unprecedented conference.”

“The Libyan delegation has taken a very important first step toward deciding what type of media system they want for their nation,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar, who was the conference chair. “After much lively debate, and with contributions from leading experts in the fields of media, journalism, government, academia and the law, the Libyan representatives have reached initial consensus that will support the a vibrant national media system.  Congratulations to the delegates for undertaking this difficult, but important task, and accomplishing so much in so short a period of time.”

The delegation released the following statement:

11 December, 2011

Doha, Qatar

Participants of the Media Vision for Libya: A “Good Offices” Conference, sponsored by NUQ and National Transitional Council, suggest these principles to guide the transitional period and inform future decisions about media policy for Libya:

  1. Libya should have a free, open, and independent media and communications system.
  2. Private media should be permitted and encouraged.
  3. 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.
  4. Control of content should be limited. Any limitations should be enacted by the parliament and adjudicated by an independent judiciary.
  5. State media should be transformed into independent media operated as a public service trust and/or privatized.
  6. There should be a robust system for media literacy and journalism education and training.

Recognizing the need for action in the interim period and realities on the ground, this group makes the following recommendations. The NTC should:

  1. Promote and discuss these principles through a series of public forums and debates.
  2. Create a vehicle to ensure the principles are embodied in the constitution and future legislation.
  3. Establish and convene a consultative council of experts to advise on the advancement these principles.
  4. Inventory and assess existing state media and communications infrastructure.
  5. Grant temporary operating authority to existing broadcasters and electronic media, until an independent regulator is established.
  6. Train journalists and people in civil society to professionally cover elections.
  7. Journalism organizations should create a code of ethics for Libyan media.

The Libyan delegation included Salem Gnan, NTC member for Nalut, in addition to leading figures from academia, media, government, journalism, local councils and legal organizations. The delegation members were all active figures in the revolution, and represented a diversity of Libyan regions and society.

Outside expert participants included leading media economist Dr. Robert Picard, director of Research at the Reuters Institute, Oxford University; technology policy expert Dr. Robert Pepper, head of Government Affairs at Cisco Systems; and Joyce Barnathan, president of International Center for Journalists.

The Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil Al-Arabi, attended the opening session and gave keynote remarks on the importance of a free and independent media and in democratic process.

Under the “good offices” structure, NU-Q acted as an impartial third party in organizing the conference.  The university also facilitated the discussion by chairing the forum, offering expertise and mediating debates, while refraining from advocating any policy position.