Scores of Libyan journalists staged a sit-in on Sunday outside the National Transitional Council (NTC) to protest NTC decision of creating a Supreme Media Council, a broadcast institution and an agency that will be in charge of managing the affairs of journalists.
Journalists rejected NTC’s decision, calling for them to be repealed and for setting media free from state control, describing the laws as first step towards limiting press freedom in the aftermath of the revolution.
Last week NTC issued a law setting up a Supreme Media Council that should report to NTC or another body that would replace it in the future. It has also set up a national press institution that should report to the Supreme Media Council and announced the foundation of a public radio and TV station.
The institution is made up of a thirteen-member management board in charge of following up the performance of press organisations. The law stipulates that the board should have a say in all issues related to press in Libya and is responsible for developing a vision for the future of media as well as participating in elaborating a code of honour and protecting the rights of the journalists.
The law also stipulates that Media Supreme Council should ensure protection of journalists, evaluate the performance of local newspapers and issue periodic reports about compliance with the ethics of the profession and its code of honour.
Fears and concerns
The Council is also mandated to develop public policies to upgrade media in the country.
With regard to broadcast agency law, it allows the integration of several independent TV channels into its radio and TV institution. These TV stations include: National Libya Channel, Libya, Shababiya, Sports, Hidaya, Media Center and Misrata Radio.
The law also named the steering committees which will be in charge of the management of these channels, stipulating that the NTC will issue decrees determining the competences of the committees and the mission of the channels.
Libyans fear that NTC’s laws will lead to a repeat of former regime’s tactics of suffocating press freedom and imposing censorship laws.
The head of Libyan Media Support Authority, Idris Mismari, said that “Libyan journalists have been trying since the outbreak of the revolution to set up a media supreme council independent from both NTC and the government.”