Saturday, April 2, 2011
Moroccan Journalists Demand More Freedom from Government Authorities
Here is an article from Magharebia.com concerning recent protests by journalists working for state run media in Morocco. They believe that being able to do honest reporting needs to be apart of the reforms that everyone is speaking about.
Moroccan state media urges greater freedom
State press workers hope that the Moroccan king's promises of reforms will translate into enhanced media liberties.
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 01/04/11
As part of the reform process initiated by King Mohammed VI, Moroccan state television channels started broadcasting political debates, allowing greater openness to scrutinise the king's initiatives.
"People are watching political programmes more often, whereas before, most weren't interested in them because of what was said on them," teacher Zohra Belaid said. "We hope that this trend towards freedom of speech and expression will continue to develop on all levels."
Some experts and members of the public, however, doubt that the change is noticeable and call for altering the editorial policy of state channels.
Journalists staged sit-ins across the kingdom to demand freedom of expression and greater independence from the authorities. For them, political change must also involve reform of the state media, changes in editorial policy and the departure of those currently in charge.
It is impossible to imagine democracy in Morocco without far-reaching media reform, according to National Moroccan Press Syndicate (SNPM) chief Younes Moujahid. He said that the national debate about constitutional reform must be managed by credible and free media institutions.
The state audio-visual sector has long been stagnant and it's time to do something about this state of affairs, according to Mohamed Wafi, head of the union of TV channel 2M workers.
"Given the competition posed by satellite channels, and in order to restore viewers' confidence, the national channels must be reformed to address current expectations and needs," said Wafi, whose union staged a sit-in in Casablanca on March 18th.
Moroccans want to watch uncensored, high-quality shows with programming tailored to their needs, said Mohamed Abbassi, Secretary-General of the Democratic Audio-Visual Media Union. According to him, the aim is to earn viewers' loyalty through a new approach based on freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, Communications Minister Khalid Naciri said at a March 24th press briefing that the way in which the media is run is among the major areas of reform initiated in Morocco. He underlined that the issues raised within the state media would be dealt with as part of the agenda for the reforms under way, some of which relate to management, governance and organisational and legal aspects.
"The managing bodies of media institutions are listening to the demands that have been made, which they are considering in a positive light with a view to implementing the necessary solutions to them," he said.
Political analyst Samir Machouli argued that state media had a major problem in terms of credibility and must use ethical standards and present a diversity of viewpoints.
"The state media is discredited because of the censorship practised with regard to several topics, especially politics," he said.
"The winds of change are blowing, provided that the transformation continues, as this new era needs very strong media that reflects what is going on in society," Machouli concluded.