Political Parallelism in Transitional Media Systems: The Case of Libya

Anja Wollenberg, Carola Richter


Among the media systems in transitional countries of the Middle East and North Africa, political parallelism has become a widespread feature that has both promoted and undermined the transition to democracy. Political parallelism refers to structural ties between media organizations and political actors that often result in biased reporting. This article examines how political parallelism is shaping Libya’s newly liberated media system. Based on an analysis of ownership structures, financial sources, and political affiliations of all media outlets currently operating in this fractured country, we show that the structures of the Libyan media system indeed reflect the anatomy of political conflict. At the same time, the analysis sheds light on a large number of local radio stations that do not follow the pattern of political parallelism, but instead refrain consciously from taking political sides. We conclude that this kind of media, if invigorated and developed, could help overcome Libyan polarization.


political parallelism, political transformation, media pluralism, Libya, Libyan media, local media, media transition, media systems

Full Text: