On April 8th the Lebanese Ministry of Information, the French Embassy in Beirut, the management of Télé-Liban and France’s Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA) signed a cooperation agreement to preserve the Lebanese broadcasting archives.
This partnership, called “Safeguarding, digitizing and enhancing media heritage”, is part of a solidarity fund for innovative projects. Financed to the tune of half a million euros by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project makes it possible to list and digitize several decades of the country’s archives. Commissioned by this agreement, INA will help the Lebanese media purchase the necessary equipment and train employees in archiving.
The project concerns all archives “ranging from the 1950’s to the present day”, explains Anne Grillo, France’s ambassador to Beirut. According to Elissar Naddaf, adviser to the Lebanese Minister of Information, these archives are of paramount importance: “they are archives of heritage and national value. They bear witness to the country’s golden age, to Télé Liban, Radio Liban and the National Agency. These are invaluable archives which were neglected during the civil war and the post-war period […].”
Four public broadcasters are included in this agreement, although the first, Radio Liban, is an exception since 90% of its archives have already been digitized – in particular, says Ms. Naddaf, “the data collected from the radio includes a lot of concerts”. Télé Liban illustrates more accurately the lack of means, with “only 20% of its archives digitized”, she adds. The Agence nationale de l’information (ANI) as well as the Studies and Publications Department will also benefit from this support.
The purpose of this project is cultural and scientific for Lebanon. As Elissar Naddaf explains, “[These archives] must be made available to researchers, students, journalists, and indeed all Lebanese. Passing these archives from one generation to another is very important.”