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Moroccan public TV programs in question

By Mohamed Oukaai

Morocco World News

Errachidia, Morocco, December 24, 2012

It is the norm that the public TV of a nation should abide by its culture, identity, religion, and history. The public TV is supposed to represent the common sense of a certain people. It is believed to be a mirror that reflects the people’s cultural heritage, variety, history and identity. Regardless of the huge number of channels broadcasted today, each people favors watching their national television because they feel that it is part of them. But this is not the case everywhere. The public channels that keep their audiences committed to them are the ones which meet the needs of their audience and try to reach their expectations.

Still, the reality of some public TVs is outspokenly catastrophic. They are a source of mockery because of what they broadcast to their audiences. In this respect, Moroccan public TV is not an exception. As a Moroccan viewer, I am not satisfied at all about what is presented in the public TV channels especially in 2M and RTM. I often feel disgusted about the low quality of the content of many programs, series and films presented on the two channels. Regardless of what is said about the audience ratings that view Moroccan TVs, no one can believe them since it is well known that a large number of Moroccans have decided a long time ago to boycott watching the public TV channels simply because they show no respect for their viewers. A recent statistic shows that 63 percent of Moroccans do not watch the national TV channels.

The act of boycotting one’s public TVs needs some rethinking. This act can have some devastating effects on the individual; it can lead to a kind of split in the citizens’ sense of nationalism. Above all, the sense of nationalism exists within every one of us. We naturally love our countries and we are ready to offer the best to our countries. What can intervene or disturb such positive feelings are the country’s policy makers. They are the ones who can strengthen or weaken that sense of belonging to a nation. Accordingly, along with other factors that can enhance or weaken the sense of citizenship, there is mass media, namely the public TV. These public TV stations are supposed to cohere with the people’s interests, reflect their reality and identity, and contribute to buttressing the sense of belonging. However, our Moroccan public television channels are destroying these values by what they show to the Moroccan audience.

The institutions and the staff responsible for Moroccan public television do not echo what Moroccans expect to see in their public TV stations. Morocco, by definition, is an Islamic country which has a rich cultural and linguistic heritage. That is, there are norms, traditions and morals which govern the life of most Moroccans. Instead of protecting these identity components, Moroccan public television destroys them and replaces them with foreign cultures completely impertinent to Moroccans’ real life. Most Moroccans feel disillusioned with what is generally presented to them on their public TV stations, and more often than not culturally alienated too.

For more illustration, here are some examples that show the mismatch between the contents of the public TV and what Moroccans expect to watch. Actually, many factors show the lagging-behind of Moroccans public TVs, yet I shall focus on the major ones. First, both the national and international news coverage is weak and selective, and can be considered as a megaphone of the state in the sense that news is highly politicized. Even in the age of facebook, YouTube and e-newspapers – the new electronic means that bring people the news the moment it takes place – the public media still practices censorship on the contents presented to the audience. Thus, it is a call for those who are in charge of media to realize that the age of censorship and the days of shaping the audience’s attitudes have gone.

Second, French language is overused in the Moroccan public TVs; and this raises the question of the on-going cultural influence of France’s colonization on Morocco. Instead of enhancing mother tongue dialects and official languages, the public TVs are bombarding Moroccan viewers with programs, films and series that are in French. Hence, how can such French programming contribute to buttressing Moroccan identify and culture? Is not this programming creating a sense of alienation and disparity among Moroccans? How is it possible to boost the sense of nationalism and belonging through the use of a foreign language embedded with a totally foreign culture?

Last but not the least, the disturbing fact in our Moroccan public television has to do with the translated Mexican and Turkish series, which have rapidly invaded our Moroccan society. To have three to five of these series broadcast everyday on Moroccan television is too much, and proves one thing, which is the moral degeneration of our TV channels. The dominant topics of these series are dating, “love” relationships, which mostly end with pregnancy outside wedlock, and sometimes incestual “love” relations. Along with this, such series are replete with eroticism, nudity and immorality. What adds insult to injury is the translation of these series into Moroccan Darija so that such series can be understood by all individuals, literate and illiterate! Is not this the top of moral degeneration?  Does not this destroy the majority of Moroccans’ values and morals? Who is to blame? Who has the benefit in demoralizing Moroccan society?

As a consequence, the impact on our culture brought by these series is embodied in the behavior and the style of dress of many Moroccan adolescents and adults. No one can deny the influence of these series on a large number of Moroccan adolescents. Some parents who know the danger of these series make complaints, but no one responds to them. So the solution is to delete those channels or sensitize their children to avoid watching them.

To get the attention of the ones in charge of Moroccan mass media, a large number of articles and reports have been written in different Moroccan newspapers and magazines criticizing the Moroccan public TV stations for the low quality of their programs, the irrelevance most of the time of these programs to Moroccans’ expectations, and the lack of respect for Moroccan culture and morals in some of the contents broadcasted on the public TV programs. Politically, most of those who have served as ministers of communication have not been able to make any changes to mention; rather, they sometimes take the role of defending what is presented on the public channels, relying on unreliable statistics related about the rating of Moroccan viewers.

Unfortunately, rather than acknowledging the urgent need to make real changes and taking action on this, policy makers are showing a blind eye on what is going on. With the election of the new government in Morocco, we have experienced the conflict that took place between the new minister of communication and the personnel working in the public stations because of the call of the new minister to make changes in the guidelines related to public mass media. In fact, the way the changes – brought about by the new minster, Moustapha Elkhalfi – were rebuffed makes one feel that there is a lobby running our public mass media. And this lobby is apparently influential, insisting on the continuity of the moral degeneration and stagnation of Moroccan mass media.

The minister himself acknowledged in the parliament that he is unable to interfere directly in what is presented on the public TV, though he is really worried and unsatisfied about the station’s programming. Therefore, one experiences a sense of disbelief since the ones who are elected by Moroccans to make change and fight against corruption seem to be powerless.

To conclude, let’s say enough to the nonsense presented on the Moroccan public TV stations. These stations are mainly financed by Moroccan citizens’ taxes. That is why they should respect their audience, bringing them worthwhile programming which reinforces their identity and culture. Given the huge number of channels today, it is difficult to keep an audience faithful to certain channels unless they take into account the needs of their audience and try to bring them a competitive TV programming. For Moroccan public television stations, there is still a long way to go in order to make real change. Yet, as the proverb says: “If there is a will, there is a way.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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