A delegation from China’s state broadcasting network visited Lebanon’s public television station on Monday after the networks agreed to a one-year program for China to help revive the neglected station after years of debt and plummeting ratings.
Information Minister Walid Daouk, Director General of the Information Ministry Hassan Falha and Tele-Liban executives greeted the delegation and took the group on a tour through the station’s decrepit headquarters in Tallet Khayat.
The Chinese delegates took photos of Tele-Liban’s dated equipment, worn sets and poor electrical wiring.
“These two TV stations are counterparts,” said Ma Li, a director general at the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
Li said the agreement between the two countries authorized Tele-Liban to broadcast in China as an effort to improve cultural understanding. Other measures in the agreement include training for Tele-Liban staff and an invitation to film in China.
Tele-Liban officials are making a push to revive the station by bringing in outside help from other national networks.
The station has sought the help of France 24 and the BBC, in addition to CCTV in China.
The first television station in the Middle East, Tele-Liban has fallen a long way since its heyday in pre-Civil War times.
The channel has been moribund for decades behind political fighting, bureaucratic knots and a mounting debt. Tele-Liban’s most popular programs remain re-runs of shows from the 1960’s.
After the Civil War ended in 1990, many politicians worked to launch their own television networks and left Tele-Liban in disrepair.
The station closed briefly in 2001 before launching the same year. Tele-Liban has limped along since then , with reports of large payrolls but limited working staff.
Fixing the station’s many problems has been attempted by different administrators for years with limited success. A former head of the network says the process of fixing Tele-Liban is almost an impossible one.
“We hope this will be a very good starting point and in the future we are looking forward to more cooperation,” Li said.