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Lebanon: the plight of Catholic Media in a time of crisis


Tele Lumiere-Noursat Christian Network

Marie-Therese Kreidy - published on 10/26/20

The August 4 explosion severely damaged Tele Lumiere-Noursat Christian Network in Beirut, yet the news channel has carried out it mission to be "a light in the darkness."

The year 2020 has been a challenging year in all respects for the small Mediterranean country of Lebanon. Home to 18 different religious communities and sects, Lebanon has been considered a model of coexistence and pluralism, and the country which was supposed to be celebrating its centennial, is facing its worst economic and humanitarian crisis, which is threatening its existence and unique identity.

The culmination of recent catastrophes was the Beirut Port explosion on August 4, 2020, in what was estimated to be one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history, leaving more than 200 dead, over 6500 wounded and 300,000 homeless. The explosion hit most of the Christian neighborhoods, where historical churches, hospitals, schools and many industries and homes were destroyed.

The news media industry in the area was hit hard, and according to reports by the Lebanese army and relief foundations, including a report “Mapping the Damage on the Media Sector,” Tele Lumiere-Noursat Christian Network, was one of the “Extremely Damaged“ media outlets.

The channel has been working on developing its studios for years in the Mar Michael (St. Michael) region near the port of Beirut, and the blast devastated the 10 studios where a dozen of the prime-time programs were filmed and broadcast live on a daily basis. The structural damage, along with damage to the equipment and aesthetics of the buildings were estimated to come to than 2 million USD according to Jacques El Kallassi, the General Manager of Tele Lumiere, based on a detailed report estimating the damages.

The offices and production departments in the nearby Dora region were also damaged, and miraculously none of the employees was severely wounded.

In urgent response to the catastrophe, the already struggling network, remarkably shifted its programs to one of the smallest “primitive “ studios in Dora region, and focused mainly on using its air time to create a humanitarian relief chain by connecting affected persons to the NGOs and associations and families willing to help them in the time of crisis. From August 4 to October 4, 2020, the channel dedicated its air time to the victims, the wounded, the homeless and all the affected people of Beirut. The channel  broadcast live coverage from the affected area, where Masses, prayers, and religious concerts were held. Reporters followed the victims’ stories, sought help for those in need, and covered relief efforts and the humanitarian situation.

The Catholic media carried out its mission in the time of crisis: to be the voice of the voiceless, to overcome its wounds and look forward to serve and fulfill its goals.

However, the future doesn’t seem very promising, especially for Christians struggling in the Middle East. After more than two months, according to General Manager Jacques El Kallassi, “Tele Lumiere is still suffering from the destruction, in its offices and its studios, currently renting material and filming outdoors to keep on the production of programs, and is launching an appeal for help in programs, equipment or financial support.”

The goals are set even higher, and the presence of this Catholic Network is the only light in the darkness of this ongoing crisis, knowing that the most important role to play now is to sow peace, hope and faith amid all the disaster and suffering.

To livestream Tele Lumiere-Noursat Christian Network click here.

To donate money to help rebuild the stations, visit the Noursat USA site.

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