In October 1954, two Lebanese businessmen, Wissam Ezzeddine and Alex Moufarrej, submitted a request to create a TV station. In August 1956, the Lebanese government granted them a television company license under the name Compagnie libanaise de télévision (CLT) for a period of 15 years. In the spring of 1957, Lebanese President Camille Chamoun and Prime Minister Sami Solh laid down the foundations for the first TV station building in the Middle East, on a sandy hill in Beirut called Tallet El-Khayat. On May 28, 1959, the station was officially launched by General Sleiman Nawfal, CLT’s first General Manager. It aired programs in two languages, operating two VHF channels: Canal 7 (an Arabic-speaking channel) and Canal 9 (a French-speaking channel). During that period, broadcasting time did not exceed six hours per day, from 6 pm to midnight. CLT’s success encouraged a group of Lebanese businessmen to set up and form a second television named Télé-Orient, which obtained its own license in July 1961. The station began operating in May 1962 from its headquarters in Hazmieh, east of the capital, and was known under the names of Canal 5 and Canal 11.
Télé Liban’s activity is marked three periods: the first one from the late 1950s until the late 1970s. The second period started in 1978 when CLT and Télé-Orient merged as a joint venture company, equally divided between the public and the private sectors and operated under the name of Télé Liban. Télé Liban was granted a license for 25 years with a monopoly over broadcasting until 2012. As for the third period, it started in 1996 when the State bought all the private sector shares. The private sector shares had previously been bought by more than one investor, the latest being former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who acquired all the private sector shares.
Télé Liban's monopoly was removed under the 1994 Audiovisual Media Law, and several private stations were granted broadcasting licenses. Since then, Télé Liban found itself facing tremendous competition, which impacted its advertising revenues. The TV station was shut down in February 2001 and its employees were all laid off by decision of the Council of Ministers; it would be reopened within three months. However, three months were not enough to reorganize Télé Liban as required and, according to TV standards, it was reopened prematurely on May 25, 2001 and a modest budget of 120,000 USD was monthly allocated by the government.
Currently, Télé Liban does not have a Chairman of the Board knowing that eight people have managed the TV station throughout the years. Télé Liban’s latest chairman was Talal Makdessi, whose mandate witnessed significant technological developments. It started airing using fiber optic cables since the shift of work has transformed from analogue to digital. Also, when Makdessi took over the TV channel, Télé Liban had 19 broadcasting stations in the different Lebanese regions but only 5 of them were operational. Now, 17 of them are functional and Télé Liban became the first to cover more than 95% of the Lebanese territories. Télé Liban also broadcasted the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup games. Conflict occurred between Minister of Information Melhem Riachi and Chairman Talal Makdessi in March 2017 (Riachi believes Makdessi “never complied with the Ministry’s requests to cease his violations of the company’s regulations. […] These serious distortions have provoked very strong reactions from officials and employees within the channel, which has led us to resort to legal proceedings.”) This led to a judicial decision on May 26, 2017 following which Makdessi was dismissed. The position of Chairman remains vacant because of the difficulty to appoint someone amid political tensions. Télé Liban’s news director is Saeb Diab.
Media Companies / Groups
Télé Liban SAL
Télé Liban SAL is owned by the Lebanese State.
Wissam Ezzeddine and Alex Moufarrej
Phone: +961 (1) 788800
Revenue (in Mill. $)
Operating Profit (in Mill. $)
Advertising (in % of total funding)
Chidiac, M. (2014). La television mise à nu. L'Orient des Livres. (Available in French only).
Audience share for TV stations is based on IPSOS data (Q1 and Q2 of 2018).