Lebanon was ranked 101st in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The country has fallen by one place since last year.
Lebanon’s media was found outspoken but also extremely politicized and polarized.
"Its newspapers, radio stations and TV channels serve as the mouthpieces of political parties or businessmen," the report said.
It was noted that the country’s criminal code regards defamation and the dissemination of false information as crimes and defines them very broadly, which appeared for example in 2017 where the judicial authorities harassed the well-known TV host Marcel Ghanem for allowing guests to criticize the Lebanese authorities during his programme.
“Journalists who are prosecuted and convicted by military or print media courts are usually fined or sometimes sentenced in absentia to imprisonment," the report explains.
"2018 saw an increase in cases of bloggers and online journalists receiving subpoenas from the “bureau for combating cyber-crimes” because a social network post had elicited a complaint from a private party, often a prominent person linked to the government,” it added.
Published every year since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index examines 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists without ranking the quality of journalism or public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking.
In addition, it calculates a global indicator and regional indicators that evaluate the overall performance of countries and regions as regards media freedom.
The degree of freedom is determined by pooling the responses of experts to a questionnaire devised by RSF which developed an online questionnaire focusing on pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.