By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, April 20, 2012
A lot of fuss has been created as a result of the overdue media reform that Mustapha El Khalfi, Minister of Communication and Spokesperson of the government, intends to implement in order to make the Moroccan media landscape meet professional standards, as well as provide the Moroccan audience with quality programs. The announcement made by the Minister regarding the time allotted to French in TV channel 2M has sparked a heated debate and prompted its director, Salim Sheikh, to make several appearances to explain why he opposes the reform of the channel.
If it is understandable to see Mr. Sheikh defend his position, resorting sometimes to fallacious arguments like when he says that 2M represents and defends the Moroccan culture, what is most outraging, is to see some fellow Moroccans arguing that the Minister has no right to reduce the ubiquitous presence of French on Moroccan media. The argument used by these die-hard francophones is that French has come to be part of the Moroccan identity, as if the Moroccan identity started taking shape when the French imposed their protectorate on Morocco in 1912.
First and foremost, no Moroccan will deny that channel 2M must represent the interests of Moroccans and live up to their expectations as they wish, for they are the ones who have paid the price of the channel’s continuity at the end of the day. And it is up to them to criticize whatever they don’t like about it and ask for reforms. The majority of Moroccans have evinced their appreciation for the unprecedented decision that Morocco’s minister of communications has made towards reforming the channel.
However, Sami Sheikh, channel 2M’s director, along with many other opportunists, has waged war against the reforms, claiming that the latter are jeopardizing the original status of the channel. Yet, they make-up a minority, which clearly indicates that they are not representing Moroccans; rather, they must be serving the interests of France, especially since French has always been the dominant language in the channel’s programs. The director and his likes must bear in mind that the majority of Moroccans speak Tamazight and Arabic, and only a few of them speak French.
Given the fact that nearly all Moroccans are not satisfied with the programs, serials, sitcoms, and so on, that are broadcasted through the channel, I don’t think El Khalfi’s attackers should oppose public opinion about the shoddy quality of 2M’s shows. The public media belongs to Moroccans, not the director. And they are, therefore, free to embrace any reforms suggested as long as they suit their interests. It goes without saying that Sami Sheikh is only serving the interests of France by opposing the reforms, particularly that the channel is more French than the French.
The minister of communications has only performed his job when he banned showing gambling ads on 2M, for the channel represents Moroccan Muslims, not French people. And it is selfish of the 2M director to confine his interests to himself and his proponents and to forget about the general public’s interests. It is true that the channel has lost a large sum of money due to the banning of gambling ads. Yet, for Moroccans, the channel did not in the first place live up to their expectations even with ads, let alone without them.
Sami Sheikhs and others who are resisting the reforms proposed by El khafi must consider these questions: What is wrong with reforming 2M channel when it is Moroccans themselves that are calling for this? Very probably, the reforms that Mr. Sheikh strongly opposes do a disservice to the values of France, especially if the French language’s dominance decreases. What is wrong with confining the programs in French to 20%, at a time when the official languages of the country are Tamazight and Arabic? The answer to these questions is that all the supporters of the campaign against El Khalfi’s reforms are merely doing their utmost to preserve the original status of the channel and therefore to serve the interest and values of France and the French language.
Omar Bihmidine is high school teacher of English. He obtained his Associate Degree at Choaib Eddoukali University in 2008. His writings take the form of short stories, poems and articles, many of which have been published in Sous Pens magazine, in the ALC magazine in Agadir, and in the late Casablanca analyst newspaper.
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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