Most of the people owning Lebanese media outlets are either politically affiliated, or belong to powerful Lebanese families, or have major business interests – sometimes all of the above combined. Women are under-represented, holding mostly minor shares as part of a bigger family.
Media and Politics Come Hand in Hand
Forty-three current or former Ministers or Members of Parliament own shares in the selected media companies. Out of them 15 are incumbent Members of Parliament or Government. Many more are politically affiliated. High-level politicians are amongst the owners: the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of Parliament all own media outlets directly or through their family members. Six political parties (including five represented in Parliament) and the Lebanese State also appear as owners. Out of the 37 monitored media outlets, 29 are owned by families, individuals or parties currently or formerly part of the Parliament or the executive.
Business, Politics, and Media
Amongst the media owners are well-known businessmen with various investments besides their shares in media companies, like the Khayat Family (Tahseen Khayat Group) and Al-Waleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding. In some cases, media owners and businessmen are also directly involved in politics, like the Mikati family (M1 Group), Hariri family (various companies), Issam Fares (Wedge Group), and the Frem Family (INDEVCO Group).
The research shows that media ownership in Lebanon is male dominated; no woman is identified as individual owner. Women holding minor shares being the daughters, wives, aunts, in-laws, etc. of powerful men in prominent families. MP Bahia Hariri is an exception, owning 99.4% of the company that controls Radio Orient. However, she is part of the Hariri family, being the aunt of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the sister of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Women rarely hold management positions. Out of the 35 identified CEOs, only one is a woman: Annahar’s Nayla Tuéni, great-grand-daughter of the newspaper’s founder.
The gender ratio for board members of media organizations is slightly more balanced: women are present on almost half of the boards (12 out of 27 identified). However, they do not represent more than half of the board members.