Libya's press restrictions: This time, the revolution may not be televised
Press restrictions in Libya make it difficult to get images out of the country.
February 21st, 2011
05:31 PM ET

Libya's press restrictions: This time, the revolution may not be televised

Many readers are wondering why CNN’s coverage of protests in Libya isn’t teeming with the photos, videos and first-person accounts that made our reports out of Tunisia and Egypt so riveting.

The easy answer? They’re different animals.

In Egypt, CNN was able to walk among the protesters and gather their stories (and even be attacked by them), but practical and legal restrictions in Libya make such open coverage impossible. With the exception of a handful of accounts out of Benghazi, CNN cannot immediately confirm most reports.

The Libyan government maintains a firm grip on communications and has not responded to repeated CNN requests for access. We have interviewed numerous witnesses over the phone, but on Monday, it appeared that the country's internet connections and mobile phone networks had either slowed considerably or been shut down.

We’re not the only media outlet experiencing difficulties.

Jon Williams, BBC’s world news editor, wrote Sunday that Libya is one of the few countries where British nationals cannot operate without a visa, or obtain one on arrival.

There, the door is firmly shut to international journalists; local reporters face intimidation and the threat of worse,” he wrote.

He added that the nation’s tricky geography - largely desert - the scale of the violence and “the ruthlessness of the Libyan authorities” has prompted BBC to keep its correspondent in Cairo, Egypt, rather than send him into Libya “undercover.”

Libya is known for some of the world’s strictest limitations on the press. In its press freedom index, Reporters Without Borders ranks the nation 156th out of 175 countries. Though there has been some recent improvement in basic freedoms, the watchdog reported, “progress remains brittle."

“The same goes for freedom of the press with the government making frequent gestures of openness over the past two years but pulling back from this progress lately. Moreover, it still exerts tight control over the media through a repressive legislative stranglehold."

In January 2010, Libya began censoring the internet and blocked YouTube and independent opposition websites, the group said. It also has a regulatory body that monitors journalists who report on corruption.

Responding to state actions targeting the press – including the November arrests of 22 of its reporters – Libya Press announced in December it was closing up shop in Tripoli and would resume its reporting from various foreign capitals, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Perhaps the ownership of Libya Press is telling, both to the degree of press restrictions and the level of societal tumult: The outlet is part of a media group owned by Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, leader Moammar Gadhafi’s son.

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Filed under: Egypt • Protest • Tunisia • World
soundoff (52 Responses)

    i dont have any restrictions.. i can bench press 300Lbs

    February 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • hfjkhsd

      i can bench press 1337lps

      February 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Beritebak

      I give free moustache rides to all eligible women. No retrictions.

      February 21, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tracy - Chicago

    Does anyone know if you can watch this online through services like I know they carry broadcasting from around the world, but not sure about this???

    February 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      Depends. Do TVDevo reporters have a death wish? Do they enjoy being rapped in a Tripoli prison, accused of being C.I.A.??

      February 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jen

      Try BBC news- they actually have had a lot of video coverage. You can get it online or through Roku

      February 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Watching the News

      Al-Jazeera –

      Watch online or go to the foot of the "Watch" link where it gives TV channel numbers.

      February 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Beritebak

      Personally I rely on my hacked Predator footage.

      February 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |

    btw if it's not on tv.. did it really happen? i only belive stuff i can watch on tv..

    February 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    RUFFNUTT, you *are* a 300 lb. restriction. J/K!

    February 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. На Данката баджанака

    Google should hurry up with Google Earth Live Stream:)

    February 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. vousallez

    That's why i watch AL-JAZEERA. Thier coverage is very nice.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toasty

      Same here, wish they'd get AJ English in the US instead of just the net though

      February 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • US Resident

      Al-Jazzera english is available as a livestream at english dot aljazeera dot net. Their coverage is not as good as their coverage of egypt but they do have people on the ground who can verify video on U-tube

      February 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mel Applegate, Wichita,Ks,USA

      in analysing the devlepments with the "OPPOSITiON" to Moammur Gaddaffi in Libya, if the protesters are SOMEHOW get hold ofthe Brother-in-Law, ( Abdullah Sehnussi ) to Qaddifi, and are ABLE to KILL him, and then Qadaffi, I think they will THEN be able to take over the government. *** This revolution, may be in some respect, be similar to the overthrow, of Saddam Hassain, in Iraq, WHO if the people had been able to GET to him, would literaaly torn him to shreds in a gauntlet.
      "treat you neighbor, as you would WANT to be treated", or in the END there will be DOOM for You. !!!!

      February 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy


    You can bench-press 1337 albums?

    February 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Beritebak

      What's an album?

      February 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |

    LPS= lolly pops?

    February 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Beritebak


      February 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      Pu$$y Lip$

      February 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dr mengle,got twins?

    the revolution is here cupcakes..thru your windows..thru your tel screens..on your blocks,thru your walls..the street fighting man has awakened..and it seems too me the company here has trouble with writing even one sentence..oh brother..

    February 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |

    a chocolate cupcake with white icing and sprinkles would be good right now..with some milk.. and maybe with an ice cream cup..

    February 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 11:11

    This one will be on pay-per-view.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Zeta

    @ dr mengle,got twins?:

    Got a grasp of spelling and punctuation? Capitalization? A coherent thought? I didn't think so. Cupcake.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marco

    Rock the Casbah.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy

    @Ruffie: Yum.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy

    @Marco: lol! The Clash. Gotta love it!

    February 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
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