Morocco

What Happens When Media Oligarchs Go Shopping?

Mighty, politically well-connected oligarchs are in the mood for retail therapy, and their targets are media outlets. Their influence over journalism has begun to reach worrying levels.
 
Jack Ma of Chinese giant Alibaba, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, Delyan Peevski from the tobacco maker Bulgartabak, Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris and Saudi prince Al-Waleed are all completely different businessmen. They look totally unalike and live in different places. One is obese, another one is skinny. One hails from Sofia, another one from Cairo. Their tastes are dissimilar.
 
But they also have some things in common: an unwonted wealth, close links with political power and a firm grip on much of the world’s media.
 
The issue of ownership concentration in the media is not new. It goes back to the 1980s and 1990s when some of the now old media moguls began to build their holdings. The rise of disrupting internet behemoths in the past decade or so was expected to dent into their power. It didn’t.

Who Can Reinvent Public Media in the Global South?

An upcoming study on public media in the Global South calls for major reforms to help reinvent public service media.
 
Back in 2007, responding to people’s growing dissatisfaction with the commercial news media in Taiwan, PTS, the country’s public television service launched PeoPo, a portal that was designed to host video reports made by citizens. Part of the project was also a training program that was intended to teach citizens how to create such reports.
 
The project was a sensation.
 
The number of video-making citizens exceeded 3,400 by 2009 and was close to 7,400 in 2013, according to a RIPE report. Half of those who enrolled in this program are youths aged between 21 and 30. PeoPo concluded collaboration agreements with over 200 NGOs and 15 college news centers to hold training sessions. It cost PST a frugal US$200,000 a year to fund this project.
 
All in all, this is truly an example of the development of public service media at its finest.
 
However, unfortunately this is a comparatively rare example of success in such development so far. In fact, the state of public media in the Global South (defined as Africa, Latin America and developing Asia, including Middle East) is far from rosy. Most are struggling with a spate of structural problems coupled with political pressures.
 

New Press Code in Morocco to Still Send Journalists Behind Bars

A revised press code in Morocco was hoped to give journalists more room to report freely. But a closer look shows that nothing has really changed.

The gravest legal threat to media freedom in Morocco are the laws that restrict the type of content that can be publicly communicated. The 2002 Press Code and the 2003 antiterrorism law put forward criminal penalties for any criticism of “sacred” issues such as the monarchy, Islam and territorial integrity. These laws continue to be applied to online activity, resulting in the prosecution of several online journalists and activists. The minister of communication, Mustapha El Khalfi, in an attempt to modernize the Press Code, released an updated version for review and consultation by civil society in October 2014. The law has not yet been submitted to Parliament for final approval and adoption. 

But does this updated law solve all the journalists’ problems? Far from it.