Lebanon's public broadcaster Tele Liban taken off air

Employees are striking over unpaid salaries

Tele Liban has stopped broadcasting its regular TV programmes. Photo: Ministry of Information
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Lebanon's caretaker government shut down the country's public broadcaster Tele Liban on Friday as staff protest over unpaid salaries and benefits.

The station, which was founded in 1977, is one of the oldest in the region and has about 200 employees who have not been paid in almost 22 months.

The move comes days after Ziad Makary, Minister of Information, said talks with union representatives were progressing.

Mr Makary said on Friday that the station had not been closed and would resume broadcasting at an unspecified date.

The station has stopped broadcasting its regular TV programmes.

Lebanon's media landscape is dominated by the private sector and channels are typically owned by or aligned with political parties, putting Tele Liban in a unique position.

In December, Tele Liban did not show the Fifa World Cup in Qatar after the government had failed to come to an agreement over the payment of broadcasting rights.

In the wake of the country's devastating 2019 economic collapse, the Lebanese pound has lost about 98 per cent of its value against the US dollar.

Salaries in local currency have not matched rampant inflation in Lebanon, a country heavily reliant on imports. For those paid in the Lebanese pound, such as in the public sector, their spending power has been hit significantly.

Many ministries are struggling with employee absences as a result of the wage issue.

The crisis, blamed on decades of corruption and mismanagement by the Lebanese elite, has plunged much of the population into poverty and led to widespread shortages of basic essentials including medicine and electricity.

Updated: August 11, 2023, 2:29 PM