By Myriam Ait Malk
By Myriam Ait Malk
Rabat – Mustapha El Khalfi, Morocco’s Minister of Communication, has voiced concern over the deteriorating Moroccan press sector after a meeting with the Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Editors (FMEJ) on May 24. In an extraordinary move, the Ministry decided to ban the free reading of newspapers in public spaces.
The FMEJ previously presented a report to El Khalfi regarding the written press sector in Morocco.
The Moroccan written press “has lost approximately $150 million per year due to the population’s access to newspapers that are left behind in public places,” the report said.
The FMEJ also presented a demand to the Ministry of Communication for an emergency plan to stop what was described as the “bleeding of the sector.”
According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Communication, such an emergency plan should be put in place on an interim basis pending “more radical solutions in order to assure the continuity of the national press and enable it to play its role in society.”
The FMEJ and the Minister of Communication agreed upon the following actions:
Modifying the Contract Program’s written press contract
Increasing the prices of administrative and judicial advertisements, as well as enabling electronic journalism to take advantage of such advertisements with payments by the Ministry of Communication
Banning the free reading of newspapers in public areas through the Press and Publication Law
Forming a committee to establish a public fund specifically to stimulate the purchase of Moroccan newspapers
Launching a special study of the advertising market in Morocco.
Participation of an FMEJ representative on the Ministerial committee to find urgent solutions for the protection of the economic model of the Moroccan online press
Participation of the FMEJ at the negotiations scheduled with Google and Facebook concerning the alleged unfair position of the Moroccan online press in terms of online advertisements
According to a report published by the international auditing company KPMG, “readers of written press constitute merely 1 percent of the Moroccan population.” This translates to no more than roughly 330,000 Moroccans out of a total population of about 33 million.
KPMG also explained that the problem is rooted in “various socio-economical factors including Morocco’s low literacy rate and the low and ineffective distribution of newspapers.”
In response to questions about the new regulations, Minister El Khalfi said in an interview with Huffington Post Maghreb, “Newspaper editors are undergoing a crisis and we need to limit the damage.”
“According to the FMEJ report, each newspaper copy is read by an average of five people,” El Khalfi said.