The Future of the Media in North Africa: Between totalitarian barriers and the desire for freedom

In International Advocacy Program by

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the International Media Support Forum, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the African Media Development Initiative, held a consultative meeting on January 13 and 14, 2007 in Cairo. The meeting centered around a discussion of the obstacles and challenges faced by media in North Africa. This meeting is the latest in a series of regional media consultations held throughout the African continent. The aim of these consultations has been to increase awareness and understanding among African media personnel and their international partners, concerning the status of the media sector within Africa. Furthermore, participants of the meetings are encouraged to identify specific short and long term priority issues concerning challenges for the media sector of their region, as well as the areas that need to be developed in order to maintain free and independent media in Africa.
The regional meeting held in Cairo brought together a group of editor-in-chiefs, journalists and other media professionals representing 14 newspapers, 6 TV channels and several radio stations, from six North African countries, namely Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania. In addition, a number of international organization representatives, legal experts and regional human rights activists were in attendance.
The participants deliberated on a number of key issues including the following:
A. The status of the press. Especially the effect that ongoing state hegemony over press-related regulations and severe restrictions imposed on the freedom of publication and ownership of newspapers has on the press.
B The status of video and audio broadcasting under the state monopolization of this type of media, including the chances of developing the state-owned broadcasting sector, and the obstacles encountered by private and independent broadcasters
C. The challenges faced by e-media on the internet in North African countries.
D. The role of civil society in developing the media sector in North Africa, with special focus on how civil society can promote the capabilities of media professionals to assess, control and advance media performance. In particular, the lessons learned from the role civil society played in monitoring media performance during the Egyptian elections.
E. Trade-union related issues: In particular, the role of trade unions in protecting media personnel, and the ability of a trade union to promote higher standards of professional performance through the enforcement of press and media codes of ethics.

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