By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, April 17, 2012
Last Saturday, the Minister of communication, Mr. Mustapha EL Khalfi, convened the major players in digital journalism in Morocco for a press conference to announce the latest reforms made in the media sector and the provisions made in the law drafted by the ministry.
The minister announced that the reforms refer mainly to the press code revision, the regulation on the defamation law and the status of electronic news outlets. The ministry of communication aims at issuing a comprehensive policy in the media sector through a participatory approach by engaging in consultations with the major media stakeholders.
In this regard, he asserted that digital journalism is gaining ground and could no longer remain in the shadow. Therefore, “there is a clamorous need to promulgate a law that regulates this efflorescent trend in journalism,”, the Minister said. He listed a number of challenges related exclusively to digital journalism, namely information ownership, public funding and accreditation.
In his address to the media, Mr. Al Khalfi made it clear that the executive does not adopt an interventionist approach in media. The process of decision-making in the media sector revolves around three major partners: the executive, the High Authority for Audio-visual Communication (HAAC) and media institutions. The government provisioned a set of specifications and broad guidelines, whereas the HAAC has the approval prerogative as a mediator between the executive and media institutions. The channels’ administrative council takes up the programming task in accordance with the ministry of education ground rules.
The minister gave this clarification in response to criticism leveled against the executive’s interventionist approach in the media sector nurtured by the opposition’s apprehension that the PJD (party of justice and development) ideological manifesto would be implemented rather than the coalition government consensus on this sector. He made it clear that the government intends to consolidate a separation of powers by empowering the HAAC and the media institution with a share in the decision-making process.
To illustrate the government strategy, Mr. Al Khalfi explained that a set of specifications were agreed upon within the ministry after rounds of consultations with media stakeholders and journalists. The recommendations were submitted to the HAAC for approval. The HAAC is an independent administrative body in charge of regulating the audio-visual communication sector.
Indeed, the specifications lay a great emphasis on good governance, freedom of expression and respect of Moroccan identity. To achieve this goal, the government had set a number of goals, namely raising the quality standards especially in terms of news coverage and competitiveness among major players in the media sector, in addition to the inclusion of a quota of religious programs in the channels programming.
The government seeks also to foster cultural pluralism in respect with the different ethnic groups and linguistic diversity in Morocco. The novelty in these reforms remain the promotion of the Sahrawi culture and the Hassani language. On the other hand, in the wake of the heated debate over the status of French in Moroccan media, Mr. Al Khalfi argued that the new linguistic make up in the Moroccan media was concluded after consultations with Moroccan language center studies and the recommendations made in research in linguistics. He insisted that the goal is not to underestimate the salience of French, which he asserts is a piece and a parcel of the Moroccan culture. Mr. Al Khalfi insisted that the finality of these reforms is to create a balanced and pluralistic media landscape.
The reforms in the media sector includes also a renovation in films production, especially in terms of governance and empowering human resources by providing trainings and new technologies to the film industry. The government intends to provide public funding for film-makers to foster competence and pluralism in film-making through an objective approach that does not impinge on artistic freedom.