By Naomi Sakr
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Extra resources for ARAB MEDIA AND POLITICAL RENEWAL Community, Legitimacy and Public Life
All the channels, apart from Télé Lumière, 28 TELEVISION AND PUBLIC ACTION IN THE BEIRUT SPRING offer mixed programming, presenting news and current affairs as well as talk shows and entertainment programmes, from live entertainment to soap operas. 2 The chain of public protests that the country witnessed marked a transformation in the role of television, and the media in general, in Lebanon. For the first time television spoke for the Lebanese public, and the public was able to speak through television.
62 As for the deliberative-discursive model of the public sphere, even here there are few matches with what is emerging in the Arab world or in the global media landscape that includes pan-Arab media. The most important characteristic of this model is its acknowledgement of partial, segmented, public spheres through arenas of public communication on interpersonal, intersocietal or mass communication levels, which the model sees as interrelated through common topics. Common topics may include a particular crisis.
53 Close scrutiny of these shows provides evidence to refute both the proposition that television talk shows involve open, rational dialogue and the claim that salon-style discussion has ‘migrated’ to the airwaves. Political talk shows, an innovation in Arab media, were conceived as flagship programmes for Al-Jazeera. In practice, according to both Western and Arab critics, they have often been characterised more by emotion and a lack of rationality than by rationality. Where interactive television disputes dominate the schedules they indicate tendencies towards extreme politicisation, polarisation, personalisation and emotionalisation.