Morocco: Disagreement Over Media Reform Reaches Parliament
By Loubna Flah,
Morocco World News
Casablanca, April 19, 2012
It seems that the media reforms proposed by Morocco’s minister of communication, Mr. El Khalfi, will not be easily accepted by his fellow cabinet members. Sources close to the electronic news outlet “Goud”, reported that the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) is likely to level criticism of the minister’s proposal during a parliamentary session.
Minister El Khalfi will also have to defend his reform strategy before the committee of education, culture and communication, in a meeting requested by the Party of Democratic Progress. The meeting will be attended by media officials from various Moroccan channels and will examine the reform proposals as they relate to each channel.
According to “Goud”, major media stakeholders feel alienated by these reforms since no attempt was made to reach out to them and solicit their input. At a press conference held last Saturday and attended by a Morocco World News (MWN) correspondent, Minister El Khalfi challenged Goud’s assertion by indicating that the details of the proposed reforms were developed through a participatory approach which convened major media players. Indeed, the ministry has invited many media professionals in digital journalism, including MWN, to discuss the future prospects of the proposed reforms.
Signs of discord between ministers in the coalition government are more discernible than ever. According to the Moroccan daily “Le Soir”, the government council is expected to hold its meeting today in Rabat where disagreement over specifications regarding the audiovisual companies SNRT and Soread 2M are likely to stir a heated debate between PPS and PJD ministers. “Le soir” also revealed that some members of the opposition, as well as ministers within the government, requested a revision of the aforementioned specifications, particularly those delineating the role of public media.
Earlier this month, the francophone “habitué” criticized Minister El Khalfi following the proposal to limit broadcasts in foreign languages to 20 % of the total number of TV programs. There are also mounting fears about the provisions relating to religious programs, especially the call to prayer that the Soread 2M media company is now bound to broadcast per the new set of specifications. Another concern for the PPS is that the intrusion of the state in media matters could threaten freedom of expression. Obviously, members of the former communist party seem uncomfortable with the religious undertones recently instilled by PJD ministers into the media sector.
As more internal discord is sure to develop, some are starting to question the longevity of a coalition government composed of a former communist party, the PPS, and an Islamist party, the PJD. The ultimate question remains whether the liberal and conservative wings in the government will put aside their bipartisanship and join forces to serve the public interest in full accordance with the new constitution.
Edited by Hisham El Koustaf
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