Tele Lumiere was founded in 1991 by a group of prominent religious and lay people committed to the reconstruction of Lebanon, material and otherwise, after 15 years of a devastating civil war. Its founders and leaders did not shy away from stressing the station’s identity as a non-profit Christian broadcaster, free from commercial interests, its own master in terms of programming under the supervision of the the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, with a target audience drawn from every cultural, social or geographic background.
From the start, TL’s main principle was to remain above party politics and distinct from any social movement. It refused to be a platform for partisan opinions, communal conflicts or political or commercial propaganda. Its mandate can be best summarised by a dual objective. The first one is to spread the message of Jesus Christ and raise awareness about his teachings and those of the Church, not in order to proselytise but to uphold the idea that the dignity and value of the human person are sacred. The second one is to reassert the unwavering belief that peace is both possible as well as necessary and everyone’s rights can be respected.
By broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week, TL offers Eastern Christians information and knowledge—Christian values and the Gospel message can thus be passed on. However, the channel does not see itself as community-centred for its goals are ecumenical, embodied in a variety of primarily Arabic language cultural programmes that target people on a quest or spiritual pilgrimage as well as viewers of all ages and aspirations. The channel’s broad approach has been to reach out to encourage Muslims to become part of its media project.
TL’s adopted communication strategy includes shows designed to improve understanding between peoples and cultures and boost interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Through its broad and wide-ranging coverage of important current issues, viewers can follow up on the latest developments and learn about the main activities of the Church in the various dioceses of Lebanon, the Middle East and around the world.
When it celebrated its 12th anniversary in 2003 on Whitsunday, it launched Noursat, a satellite TV service that reaches Europe, North Africa, North and South America as well as Australia. People from different backgrounds thus had an opportunity to meet and share various points of view and experiences and discuss everyday problems in all their complexity in an open dialogue.
Two programmes deserve a special mention. One is Chrétiens d’Orient, les défis (Challenges for Eastern Christians), a show that every Thursday gives a bishop from an Arab country a platform to address the problems of his own community. The other brings together a Christian religious and someone from the Druze community to discuss with openness and passion current issues that are crucial to their respective communities.
Thanks to its hard work, non-political approach and cultural vitality, Tele Lumiere has become the source of daily media bread for Christian communities across the Middle East and around the Diaspora. It has also inspired a revived interest in the region’s rich traditions, enhancing the value of the cultural heritage of Lebanese and Arab Christians.