Exploring media landscapes
The Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World hosts the launch of the book “Public Service Broadcasting in the MENA Region.”
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On Friday January 25, IWSAW (Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World) held a ceremony to mark the launching of an important regional report comparing public service broadcasting (PSB) in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.
One of the most important consequences of the book is the evidence it presents which concretely confirms the widespread perception that governmental television programs are out of synch with the needs of the population and represent an outdated approach to broadcasting.
The study focuses on eight countries, namely Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories and Tunisia. Data was obtained as research teams explored the definition and the values represented by the PSB and came up with concrete recommendations to enhance PSB and to raise awareness about the importance of a transparent, open and liberalized media for a democratic society.
Television is by far the most prominent vehicle for both information and entertainment for the approximately 200 million who live in the countries featured. As a consequence, the project of nation building is closely intertwined with television, explained Dr. Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, who conducted the study. Director of IWSAW Dabbous-Sensenig is also associate expert at the Panos Paris Institute (IPP), an NGO that supports media pluralism.
The book is the result of a project that began in 2010, prior to the dramatic events that sparked the Arab Spring in Tunisia. “This gave us an interesting opportunity to record before and after the Arab Spring and to see if new changes had been ushered in,” Dabbous-Sensenig said.
Attorney Tony Mikhael, lawyer at the Maharat Foundation discussed the case of Tele Liban with respect to PSB standards and explained that there are early signs of awareness of the need for a mission of PSB across the MENA region. “Regulatory frameworks are lacking,” he explained. “One of the goals of this project is to raise public awareness of the importance of a liberal media sector and the importance of regulatory mechanisms to monitor and supervise the media landscape,” Mikhael said.
The book made use of both qualitative and quantitative analysis and provides a wealth of evidence that can be used to guide policy recommendations. The seminal importance of the book was markedly expressed by Dr. Naomi Sakr, director of the Arab Media Center at the University of Westminster and an Arab media specialist who presented a talk centered on the concept of PSB in the Arab context.
“This 160-page book should be required reading for anyone interested in communication or media studies in the Arab World,” Sakr enthused.
“It is full of scientifically collected facts and figures—it is a gold mine for anyone interested in this topic.”
The book is published in four languages (Arabic, Catalan, English and French) and was created in close partnership with the teams of the Panos Paris Institute (IPP), the Mediterranean Observatory of Communication (OMEC) and the project partners in the countries of the MENA region: the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH Algeria), the Community Media Network (CMN, Jordan), Maharat Foundation (Lebanon), the Centre for Media Freedom Middle East North Africa (CMF MENA, Morocco) and the AMIN Media Network (Palestine).