Podcasting Public Service in the Arab World:Rupture and Continuity
Jamel Zran1* and Moez Ben Messaoud2
1Department of Mass Communication, Qatar University, Qatar
2Department of Mass Communication, IPSI, Tunisia
- *Corresponding Author:
- Jamel Zran
Professor, Department of Mass
Qatar University, Qatar
Received Date: February 13, 2018; Accepted Date: February 20, 2018; Published Date: February 28, 2018
Citation: Zran J, Messaoud MB. Podcasting Public Service in the Arab World: Rupture and Continuity. Global Media Journal 2018, 16:30.
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A large proportion of the media around the world, especially those related to radio and television, belong to the state. In principle at least, there are three different terms to talk about these types of media: • The public media that draws on the treasury to present programming that is in the interest of the general population. They do not support any political party, not even the party in power. • National media owned by the state and using the treasury money are also controlled directly by the state. • Government media that is owned by the ruling party and uses the treasury money, are also controlled by the ruling party. These three models coexist already in the Arab world since independence. This phenomenon almost removed the clear distinction that existed in principle between the government media and the public media. After the Arab Spring in 2011, however, this distinction remains important. The public broadcaster model was based on a principle that is still justified for most of the world and that the private media alone cannot guarantee the pluralism of broadcasting. The problem, however, is that the government media have also largely failed. In several countries, the arrival of private media has pushed governments to exercise editorial control of the public media. The discussion of media regulation is aimed primarily at ensuring that the media financed by the Public treasury exercise their profession with the full independence of the government of the day to which they are entitled, rather than aiming to restrict the freedom of the media that already enjoy full editorial independence. In the Arab world, there have been some attempts to recover and modernize the ideal model of public media, as for example the case of Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. This study aims to search if the Arab podcasting meet the recognized standards and the requirements of the concept of public service?
Regulation; Arab media; Arab spring; Public service broadcasting; State
television; Democratization; Arab world; Media in democratic transition
First, we should admit that despite the status of the internet in the
social, economic and political relationships, television in general
and public television in particular still represents the instrument,
which refines and influences most of the public opinion in the
world and more precisely in the Arab world. It is also worth to
say that, as far as the management and the supervision of the
media scenes are concerned, there is no country which is similar
to any other country, be it on the level of regulations or structure.
The third fact in the framework of this quest about “the public
service media in the Arab World” is that the consideration of television and its organization cannot be underestimated apart
from the inevitability of the coexistence of a private sector and a
public service media, which means that the dual system and not
the monocular one in media is one of the determining factors to
understand democracy and a bundle of associated basic liberties
(such as expression, information etc.).
In addition, public service television, with the advent of the spring
of Arab revolutions, is no more perceived through the same
mechanisms of the Tunisian and Egyptian pre-revolution . The
post-revolution public service television has become an attractive
target for all those willing to protest against the government
performance or the information and the political marginalization,
which is likely to be targeting a social, political, religious or ethnic
group. On the other hand, assaults against journalists from the
authorities or from the citizens have become suspicious since the
appraisal of their performance is based on the legacy of the old
media and how the journalist was considered as one of the major
actors who were instrumental in perpetrating the political reality
and polish the image of the former regimes.
The Arab post-revolution public service television, after the retreat
and draw back of the oppressive authority in all its manifestations,
has become the ultimate resort for the Arab citizen striving for
justice, equity and freedom in the Tunisian and Egyptian models
. This trend was not basically different in the Libyan, Syrian or
Yemenite cases. Indeed, the public service television is often the
first to be criticized even before other oppressive bodies (army,
security services, ruling party etc.) Therefore, we can say that the
television authority has replaced the ruler’s authority and people
resorted to complain to television in the absence of the of the
ruler in a quest for a voice which is effectively present after all
social classes have been muted and kept away.
The mutation of the role of the public service television in the Arab
World since the outbreak of the Arab Spring proved the need for
this service not only to be reviewed, but also to be able to keep
place with the transformations and revolutions undermining the
existence of the Arab World . It has become clear then, that
television, in addition to its leading role in forming the public
opinion trends, is considered as one of the determining factors
in the process of social integration and a major carrier of culture.
Some people consider it as an instrument which defines the
choice of individuals in their relation with others and with their
environment. From this point, the effect, mission, and role which
television can play particularly during democratic transition
have become a central issue which requires the provision of
a set of determinants the most important of which is that the
television of the democratic transition should be a public and
democratic facility. Our study on “the public service television in
the Arab World” falls within this context. Circumstances of the
post- revolution period have matured more than ever before,
hence the necessity to consider the reasons behind the lack of
development of the public service television. Any bid to reform
the media in the future cannot be possible without being based
on a scientific diagnosis and a critical approach to the way Arab
countries deal with the public service television.
Research Topic and References
First, we have to deplore the lack of media-related literature and
research dealing with the public service media in the Arab World.
This fact resulted in a discrepancy between the requirements
of the society, the change in the television’s functions and the
absence of research likely to update the agenda of the public
media. We can say that the subject of media and communication
on the research level, though being subject to some consensus
concerning its definition despite its newness, the public service
television is still shrouded in mystery and interference. The issue
becomes more complicated when we try to find out the essence
of the possible relationship, intellectually and structurally,
between the question of public service and another issue called
television. That is to say demonstrating the junction and the
articulation points which led to this complex and intellectually
unstable relationship are it in the democratic societies or in those
being in a phase of democratic transition. At first glance, and
from a preliminary reading, the subject seems to be of a technical
aspect. But originally, the issue is inherent to the concepts and
beliefs, that is to say how we perceive freedom of speech within
the space of television and the best way to ensure pluralism
and manage the public service in a rational, communicative,
free and independent environment. Therefore, the relationship
between the structure and democracy on the one hand and the
public service television and its multiplicity on the other hand, is
basically an intellectual and a political issue, or more than that, it
brings a response to the question of what kind of society do we
Literature dealing with the Arab media broadcasting in the
Arab media library is quiet modest, and if nay, it is mostly
presenting research approaches of a descriptive and historical
nature and generally focusing on the history of television and its
development. The study of satellite media in the Arab World has
been also made according to a country- based approach. Here
is an example, the publications of May Al Abdulla Sannou on
“Television in Lebanon and in the Arab World” . In this context,
we can also mention two studies issued by a non-governmental
organization, the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies. The first
study is focused on the Arab public media, whereas the second
deals with the development of the public media in Europe under
the title of “The experience of audiovisual media in Europe”, a
western study translated into Arabic by Ahmad Hassou and
published by the center in 2007. The subject of the first study,
which was published under the reform issues series in 2007 under
the title of “Media in the Arab World: between emancipation and
the reestablishment of domination: study of the media status in
Jordan, Egypt and Morocco” .
The most important part in this study is its conclusions, which
remains relevant despite the numerous evolutions and it can be
summarized as follows: the gap is still huge between the limited
developments in these countries and the freedom of information
guaranteed in the democratic countries. The study pointed out
to the existence of common points undermining the freedom of
information and this applies to Morocco, which inaugurated form
the mid-nineties an era of democratic transition, which resulted in higher expectations concerning the information freedom
opportunities. The study confirmed that the main common points
hindering freedom of information in the Arab World in general,
and in these three countries in particular are:
• The expansion of the scope of criminalization in a way largely
exceeding the accepted constraints in democratic societies on
freedom of information and expression, whereas legislators in
the concerned countries (Jordan, Egypt and Morocco) tend to
penalize these offenses by penalties involving freedom.
• The increase of the amount of tough restrictions imposed on
journalists in their quest to find the information in a way that
made allowing the publication of information an exception.
• The growing of the community pressure opposed to the
freedom of information as a result of the prevailing political
culture characterized by its conservative nature and the
increasing power and influence of the political Islamic
movements which continued to use the religion and the social
traditions to trigger anti- information freedom campaigns.
The study pointed out that the rise of political Islam movements
pushed governments to comply with their speech and eventually
go beyond it resulting in intensifying the pressure on freedom
of information. In its recommendations, the study called for the
reorganization of the audiovisual sector by taking the following
actions: Completely ending the government’s hold and monopoly
on the public media sector to ensure its transformation into a
public service in the service of the people and enjoying autonomy
in management, funding and programing.
Subjugating the management and the organization of the
audiovisual sector to regulatory councils and bodies enjoying
financial and administrative autonomy setting them free from
the domination of the political authority. These bodies shall be
granted executive and decision-making powers.
Empowering the regulatory bodies of the audiovisual sector with
the prerogative of granting the broadcasting permits according to
clear and rigorous rules and standards defined by law, which shall
be applied with transparency to avoid impartiality.
Lawfully preventing any form of prior censorship of the
broadcasted content. The regulatory bodies shall be in charge of
following up and monitoring the broadcasted materials to ensure
compliance with the law requirements and the requirements
provided in the broadcasting permit, mainly to ensure the
commitment of the broadcasting corporations to the cultural,
political and intellectual pluralism and to the accepted restrictions
to freedom of expression according to the international law.
Finally, we can also mention the study of Duffy  on Arab Media
Regulations: Identifying Restraints on Freedom of the Press in the
Laws of Six Arabian Peninsula Countries. The result of this review
finds that all of the GCC countries share several traits regarding
their approach to regulating journalists and communication. This
approach with juridical angle can be attributed to the unique
cultural aspects of Gulf society but should not be linked to the
common religion, Islam. Many countries with Muslim populations
allow for freedom of expression and press while retaining their
Problematic and Hypotheses of the
The relationship between the civil society components (political
parties, associations, opinion leaderships etc.) on the one hand
and the public service media audience (viewers and listeners
public…) on the other hand with the public service television is
a repulsion relationship characterized by a great deal of tension,
which can be defined as a feeling of dissatisfaction towards
the outcomes of the public service television and the role it
can eventually play in promoting the principles of democracy,
pluralism and modernism. The problematic of the study could
be formulated as the following: to what extent are radio and
television corporations in the Arab World in compliance with
the public service customary standards of the recent democratic
As for the definition and requirements of the public service in the
field of audiovisual industry, there is a consensus between the
experts in adopting a number of indicators among which we can
Funding source - are the resources of the audiovisual organization
coming from public funds (state treasury) or from a royalty paid
by the public for the audiovisual “service”?
The supervising bodies: is the audiovisual organization subject
to the supervision of a ministry or another public authority such
as supreme councils or regulatory bodies (Morocco, Tunisia,
The way of appointing the organization’s managers, members of
its board of directors (if any) and program committees (if any)
and what are their responsibilities: are they directly appointed
by the government or the concerned ministry or by a regulatory
body through selection and curriculum vitae?
Subordination of the audiovisual organization to a so-called
purpose and resources contract, which is a kind of specifications
(in Morocco they call it the terms booklet). Is the public service
television in the Arab World submitted to any specifications that
define in details its role and the services it is supposed to fulfill
in terms of information, culture, entertainment and serving the
society to which it belongs?
Subsequently, the hypotheses of the study can be formulated as
The public service television in the Arab World does exist in many
countries and plays a social, democratic and civilizational role
given that it is funded from the public treasury.
The public service television is a public facility in the service of the
government or the ruling party, therefore it is without substance.
The public service television does not fulfill its role because
of the lack of independence of its editorial policies, the weak
viewership, and the lack of concomitance between the goals and
the organization and the absence of regulatory bodies.
Methodology and Pattern of the Study
To get deeper insights into the problematic and hypotheses of
our study, we have opted for a sociological survey using the form
as an instrument. The form, which has been addressed to most
television and radio management of the member countries of the
Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), is divided into five parts
including more than thirty questions:
1. General information about the organization
2. Program and funding of the public service bodies
3. The corporate Organization Chart
4. Regulations governing the organization
5. The editorial policy
6. Ten Arab broadcasting corporations have taken part in this
• The Broadcasting Corporation of the Comoro Islands
• The General National Broadcasting Corporation of Sudan
• The General Broadcasting Corporation, Yemen
• Jordan Broadcasting Corporation
• Bahrain Broadcasting Corporation
• Kuwait Television
• Palestine Television
• Tunisian Television
• Radio and Television Union, Egypt
• Lebanon Television.
We can say that the response of all these corporations to the
survey represent a representative sample of the study group
since it represents more than 30% of the total number of
members of the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) which
is 29 public broadcasting corporations. According to the Arab
States Broadcasting Union’s report of 2014-2015, the number
of Arab corporations broadcasting satellite channels is about
758 corporations, 29 of which are public corporations and 729
are private sector. These corporations broadcast or re-broadcast
1294 channels, 165 are public channels and 1129 are private
channels. 91 Arab Television corporations (public and private) are
broadcasting more than one channel each, while 667 corporations
are broadcasting a single channel (Table 1).
Table 1: Arab Corporations broadcasting satellite channels (ASBU-2015).
Objectives of the Study
The study aims to address the following issues:
• What is the structure of the public service television in the
• What are the characteristics of the Arab televisions
organization in terms of management and administration?
• How to finance the broadcasting corporations from the
• What are the differences between the Arab countries in
terms of broadcasting corporation management model?
• What are the competition challenges between the public
and the private sectors in terms of basic functions of the
public media and the role of flexibility in management and
the adaptation of programs to the constantly changing
needs of the public?
From the survey form addressed to all members of the Arab States
Broadcasting Union (ASBU), from which 10 have responded, we
can conclude the following:
Characteristics of the public service television in
the Arab World
It is clear that the Arab World has complied with the information
and communication values incorporated in radio and television
as a mass communication instrument quiet lately. Moreover, we
can notice that there is a substantial time disparity between the
launching of the first and the last television in the Arab World.
Historically, Egypt was the first country to adopt the mass
media by launching its first radio station in 1934. Iraq was the
first country to have launched a television channel in 1958. On
the other hand, some other Arab countries have had their first
television only in the seventies, such as Bahrain. As for Palestine,
due to the occupation condition, its television has only been
launched by 1994 after the Oslo Agreement signed in 1993.
The naming of the organizations in charge of the audiovisual
information in the Arab World is characterized by its similarity.
In fact, most of these organizations are called Authority and
there is often an incorporation of the radio with the television
services, except in Soudan and Tunisia, where the organization
was till recently called the Radio and Television Corporation. The
merger of radio and television is not due to a rational choice or
thinking about the public service media, but rather to the facility
of monitoring, managing and controlling a single body.
On the quantitative level, we can speak today about satiety in the
audiovisual scene in the Arab World. The number of radio stations
is no longer a handicap for the provision of a public service and
the question now is how to find a balance between this big
number of channels and a media public service, which respects
pluralism and democracy and addresses all the community
layers. Most Arab countries possess about four radio stations
and four television channels or more (Comoro Islands, Yemen,
Tunisia, Bahrain…), except Palestine where there are private and
associative radio and television channels which are not subject
to the government. It is also worth pointing out the absence of
specialized public service radio or television in the Arab World.
In fact, specialization has become the monopoly of the private
sector. Rotana and Dream music channels are an illustrating example. The coming battle of the public media will not be the
quantity but the quality to face the increasing need of the Arab
audience for a public media embracing its daily concerns and
problems (Table 2).
Table 2: Breakdown of the Arab satellite channels by specialization(ASBU-2015).
|Commercial channels (marketing, interactive and advertising)
|Drama channels (films and series)
As for the broadcasting language, we can say that the
predominance is for the traditional globalized languages
which are French and English, with the emersion of other local
languages and dialects such as in Soudan and Comoro Islands.
The Egyptian model is particularly distinguished in dealing with
the broadcasting languages in that it broadcasts in more than
twenty languages. However, there are no signs of a tendency to
broadcast in other languages such as Hebrew.
Concerning the presence of the broadcasting corporation on
the web, we have noticed the availability of the email service as
well as an intensive presence of corporations’ websites. Except
for Tunisia, Soudan and Comoro Islands, the other corporations
do not have an electronic portal for their public. Nowadays, the
media and communication portal provided by the radio and the
television is considered as one of the pillars of the public service
concept because of the interactivity it creates with the public.
What grabs our attention is the widespread of the praising speech
of the communication technology and its failure in providing
a communication service between the radio and television
corporations and their public (Table 3).
Table 3: Use of languages other than Arabic by the public and private Channels in the Arab World (ASBU-2015).
||Number of channels
Funding sources and programming
The chapter on the nature of broadcasting has shown a real
disparity between the different Arab broadcasting corporations.
We can ascertain that the failure of the radio and television
broadcasting on the web is a common feature between most of
them. As for the broadcasting itself, the second common feature
is the use of FM for radio broadcasting because of its easiness,
low cost and its potential to reach a larger public in addition to
the availability of broadcasting via satellites for the majority of Arab broadcasting corporations. As a public service provider,
the public television should be ahead in the provision of the
easiest and fastest broadcasting technologies for it’s pubic. The
public service television should not be seen as a traditional body
providing a service that the state has to provide.
The answer that got a consensus has to do with the funding
sources, which is deemed one of the most important indicators
of an independent public service provided by the radio and
television corporations. As a matter of fact, seven out of nine
corporations are funded by the state treasury in the first place
and then from advertising. In this context we have to highlight
the exception of Tunisia and the Comoro Islands, where the
public service television is equally financed by a royalty that
citizens have to pay against the radio and television service. This
exception is probably due to the influence of the French model
based on the obligation of citizens to finance the public service
provided by the radio and television.
Public media funding in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, is a
central issue in any process of political reform. It is now obvious
that the media used to be an instrument for the consecration of
tyranny and the fact that the public media is exclusively financed
by the government is a prelude for its monitoring and controlling.
Therefore, any review of the concept of public service in the
audiovisual field should start by reviewing the funding sources
of this service, and this a sine qua non condition to have a
democratic and independent public media. Simply and regardless
of any controversy, the budget of the public media is the tribute
of democracy. As an example, the budget of the German public
television channels RDA and ZDF is about €7.6 billion, which is
equivalent to more than half the Tunisian State’s annual budget
for 2015. The German citizen contributes in this budget by paying
an annual tax of €210 representing 85% of the total funding. As
for the budget of British public television BBC, it is estimated to
€ 4.7 billion, in which every British citizen contributes by €200
yearly, representing 53% of the total budget (le Monde-2015).
The running budget of the Tunisian public television is estimated
to 50 million Tunisian Dinar , which is equivalent to US$ 26 million,
from which TD 14M ( US$ 8) are provided by the state treasury, TD22M ( US$13M) from the tax on television paid by citizens and
finally TD14M (US$8M) from commercials.
It is worth saying that the state is in charge of the equipment,
buildings and supply budget. As we have seen, the income
from commercials represent about 28% from the total running
budget, whereas the income from the tax on the ownership of a
television set - which is included in the electricity bill-, represent
44% of said budget.
The financing resources of the public television have witnessed
some evolution. Whereas some Arab countries tend to rely on
commercials as a second source of funding, France has banned
the broadcast of commercials during the rush hours in order to
give the chance to the private sector, which finds itself compelled
to look for alternative sources, which are not necessarily honest
amid the absence of a free advertising market. In conclusion,
the public service television in the Arab World should review
not only its structure and administration rules of the audiovisual
sector, but also the issue of funding this service in a context of
governance and transparency.
The public service television in the Arab world:
Organization and supervision
The third topic of the survey concerning the organization chart
of a radio or television corporation in charge of the audiovisual
service addressed the issue of the running methods of a public
service organization in charge of providing a public service closely
linked to the public affairs, pluralism, democracy and governance.
We have mentioned what seemed to be self-evident in the Arab
media literature since the emergence of the concept of the postcolonial
state, the subordination of the communication and media
sector to a state department called the Ministry of Information,
which started to lose ground with the onset of the Arab Spring,
which was initiated with the outbreak of the Tunisian Revolution
in January 2011 bringing the ministry of information in Tunisia
as well in Egypt to their demise. Except from Palestine and
Egypt, most of the radio and television corporations are directly
attached to the government through the ministry of information
even though it has financial and administration autonomy as in
Tunisia and many other Arab countries. The subordination of
the radio and television corporations in the Arab World to the
information ministry, which is an executive body in the hands of
the ruling majority (be it a party, a family, a confession etc.) is a
remnant of the political culture of the post-colonial state.
As for the supervision aspect of these corporations, despite the
existence of the boards of directors in charge of management
and supervision, the main reference and recourse remains the
ministry of information and the government. And what makes
these boards fake and simulated, is the way of its members
are selected, which is generally made through nomination and
not through a set of internationally recognized requirements
and standards, excepting Egypt, where there is a combination
between designation and election. Concerning the membership
in these boards, despite the presence of the civil society in its
composition, we have noticed an almost complete absence of
trade unions, which are considered as one of the most important components of the civil society. Thus, we can conclude that what
is meant by the civil society represented in the board of trustees
of the radio and television corporation, that component which
consents the government’s policies, otherwise why are trade
unions excluded? On the other hand, it is difficult nowadays to
assert the existence of independent trade unions within the radio
and television administration boards in the majority of the Arab
States, and if any, they are merely associations barely having the
right to defend the social and material rights of journalists and
are not interested in freedom and basic rights as in the case of
most Gulf states.
The last thread in the organization topic is related to the
designation of the managers of the radio and television
corporations in the Arab World. In this context, there is unanimity
of all responses that it is made by nomination and nothing else.
The issue of audiovisual public service management is closely
linked to the democracy and independence of this public service.
For this reason, many western democracies opted to forward
more than one candidate from those enjoying consensus from
the civil society and the political parties in order to ensure the
independence of the public media since it is a service addressed
to all social categories and not only the body empowered with
the executive authority.
Absence of the recipient and obscurity of legislation
The fourth part of the survey form was assigned to the regulations
governing the operation of the broadcasting corporations and its
interaction with the recipient. As far as the recipient is concerned,
its interaction with the public service television could take
place through emails, short messages (SMS) and readers’ mail.
In addition, there is also the possibility to interact by sending
pictures and video footages in Egypt, Palestine and the Kingdom
of Bahrain. The recipient’s contribution in developing the public
service policies through the concept of the journalist citizen is
one of the major communication increments for the preservation
of democracy and ensuring pluralism.
With the spread of the open sky concept, i.e. the satellite
broadcasting and the growing ascension of the private sector,
the recipient is no more confined to the public television in its
traditional pattern. The introduction of the remote control and
the availability of several choices for the recipient/citizen sets
new challenges to the public service television in keeping pace
with the public’ s needs and expectations. The fragmentation of
the reception forms requires a special reading and review from
the side of the public service television, because the polarization
manifestations are nowadays numerous and competition is
fierce, and the private sector is establishing media poles which
are about to dissimulate the public media.
Concerning legislation, this study cannot cover all existing media
organization forms and policies governing this vital area in the
Arab World. The issue of regulation of the communication and
media system, in which the state is the determining factor on
the market, and the self-regulating system, or the combination
of these two types of regulation, is now one of the contemporary
political issues in most Arab countries. Despite the attempt of establishing a supreme council of communication in Morocco
or a media and communication regulatory authority in Jordan,
the independence of media is not properly achieved on the
democratic and political levels. The reason for that is the
restriction of the role of these bodies to a simple consultative
or advisory role, whilst the existing traditional operation and
administration mechanisms are still effective even if they are not
apparent in most of the cases.
The political momentum in Egypt and in Tunisia in the wake of
the revolution has proved that the issue of restructuring the
media sector has been and is still one of the files which have
not adhered to the revolution’s slogans and objectives. This
situation has driven some people to call on the establishment of
new independent regulatory bodies in charge of organizing the
sector independently, and this is what happened in Tunisia after
the Supreme Body for Media and Communication has issued a
foundation law for a regulatory body of the audiovisual sector
The editorial policy and the question of independence of the
The independence of the editorial policy in the radio and television
corporations is an indicator of the availability of a public service
oriented to all social categories. The editorial policy is considered
as a pledge for providing a public service media which guarantees
the principle of pluralism within the society. From the survey’s
conclusions, it seems that the main authority having the power
of decision about the editorial policy of the radio and television
corporations is the government, the ministry of information
or the board of trustees, which is often designated as we have
seen earlier. The case of the radio and television corporation
in the Comoro Islands is unique. Indeed, the editorial policy of
the corporation is set by the journalists in this country. We have
also noted the absence of editorial committees and boards in
most televisions of the sample. Without professional standards
respected by all media professionals, Independence becomes
As for censorship to which the editorial policy of a corporation may
be subjected, the received responses varied from the existence of
censorship (as in case of the Comoro Islands, Bahrain, Kuwait and
Palestine), while in the other corporations covered by the survey,
a direct or indirect censorship could be found. It is obvious that
censorship is a matter of fact in most press organizations of the
Arab World and that freedom of speech is always relative.
Most of the responses concerning the existence of an observatory
in charge of pursuing the journalists’ excesses or failures proved
that all corporations disregard this major issue in a public
service television, which is the press ethics. In most public press
organizations in the western world there is an observatory
ensuring the quality of the provided services and evaluating the
relationship between the media organization and the audience.
The independence of the audiovisual corporations is considered
as one of the major foundations of the public service concept.
Indeed, most of the received responses were unanimous on
the relativity of independence, which proves that the content presented by these corporations does not address all social
categories, as we have noticed that they do not cover the
activities of the political parties, which are supposed to represent
the public opinion on the major concerns of the society.
Most responses to the question relating to the nature of the
service provided by the audiovisual corporation confirmed that it
is a public service. Only the televisions of Kuwait and the Comoro
Islands admitted that it is a public service but at the same time
it is an instrument for the implementation of the government’s
Here, we can wonder how the responses relating to independence
can affirm that it is relative and in some cases inexistent, while
they assert that television is a public service. This conclusion
brings us to the ambiguity of the public service concept in the
minds of those in charge of the public service media in the Arab
According to the study conclusions, we can say that radio and
television corporations in the Arab World do not meet the
recognized standards and requirements of the concept of public
service. This can be seen through the following facts:
• The absence of independent editorial boards in most radio
and television corporations in the Arab World. The main
authority having the power of decision about the editorial
policy of the radio and television corporations is the
government , the ministry of information or a designated
board of trustees, and the limitation of the role of the
media regulatory authorities to a mere consultative role.
• The Arab citizens do not directly contribute in the funding
of the public television in most Arab countries, may be lest
becoming a controller. And we have seen that 8 out of 10
corporations are funded by the state treasury in the first
place and from advertising secondly.
• Naming of the corporations in charge of the audiovisual
sector in the Arab World is characterized by the similarity
of names. Indeed most of them are called corporations
(authorities) and the radio and television services are
often merged in a single organization, except in Sudan and
in Tunisia, where the organization was called till recently
The Radio and Television Corporation.
• The future battle of the public service will not be about
quantity but quality, to face an increasing need of the
Arab public seeking a public media which is close to its
daily concerns and problems.
• The inexistence of radio and television transmission on
the web is a common feature of most radio and television
• The appointment of managers of the radio and television
corporations in the Arab World is made by designation.
• The inexistence of observatories in charge of following the
journalists’ excesses in most Arab countries.
• Predominance of bureaucracy and nomination in the
public media administration. Recommendations can be
summarized as the following:
• Transforming the file of public media into a societal issue
closely linked to the public domain, politics, development
and democratic transition,
• Setting a research team or a research center in charge
of following up the development of the public media in
general and the radio and television service in particular.
• Organizing an annual conference to discuss the public
media problems and issues related to the radio and
television in particular.
• The necessity of restructuring the public media sector in
order to keep pace with technology evolution and the
major political changes taking place in the region.
• Reviewing the model of information ministry, the presence
of which is contradictory with the democratic transition
• Involving the citizens in the evaluation of the public
• Imposing a tax on the audiovisual services.
• Establishing an independent authority for the audiovisual
activity in charge of organizing and regulating the sector.
• Reviewing the regulations governing the audiovisual
media in most Arab countries.
• The necessity of independence of the editorial policies in
the public service radio and television.
• Enacting the role of journalists in their quality of interface
in the information process.
• Reviewing the role of the civil society in the information
process in most Arab societies and granting them the role
of partners in defining the public television features.
• Transforming the public service television into a space for
pluralism and the consecration of the citizenship values
and democracy principles.
• Promoting the independence of the public media from
the executive authorities.
Conclusion: Towards A New Public
The new public service television in the Arab World should
become a space for promoting creativity and a cultural model
and not an instrument of intellectual banalities and taste
marginalization. The public service television is able to provide
an optimum service to the recipient provided that it meets the
• Democracy as a life style, and the necessity of preserving
• Preserving pluralism as a sine qua non condition for the
freedom of speech, and can only be achieved through ensuring the independence of the editorial policy, the
pluralistic orientations and the credibility of news.
• Citizens should become a real actor in the production and
publishing of the image through the emergence of the
concept of the citizen journalist, the citizen reporter, or
the citizen document list.
• Priority should be given to creativity in the public service
television and to the introduction of the state of the art
• The public service television should be the propeller or
the laboratory for all other actors in the audiovisual field.
• The necessity of reaching a respectful audimat by the
public service television, and this result should not be a
target in itself but a result to be achieved through a clear
programming and editorial policy. For example, in France
4 out of each 10 French people watch the public service
• The diversification and definition of the editorial lines of
the public television channels, and especially respecting all
editorial tendencies for the sake of serving and preserving
the public interest.
• The necessity of restructuring the public service media
in the Arab World in terms of legislation, regulations
and organization in order to be compliant with the
management flexibility, financial autonomy and serving
the public interest within the principles of democracy.
• Reviewing the funding mechanisms of the public service
television: advertising, sponsorship, commercials…
To summarize, we can ascertain today that amongst the
most complicated issues facing the western democracies and
other democracies, is how to preserve a public media amid
the globalization of media and communication and their
transformation into a commodity. Indeed, there is no demarcation
today between the public service television and the globalization
which is seeking the establishment of a homogeneous consuming
society in the form of a single market with a single taste and
culture. For instance, the consumption of reality shows by
developed societies and those with an average growth confirms
the continuation of human modeling regardless of the local
cultural specificities of every society, and this is an issue, which
is caused by the yielding of television to globalization, and which
needs to be addressed.
The issue of the relationship between television and globalization
was clearly and boldly raised by Pierre Bourdieu (Bourdieu,
1996), who emphasized the fact that television production has
become with globalization a mere commodity. We know that the
logic of commodity is governed by profit and competition, and
since the content broadcasted by television today has something
to do with culture and the symbolic capital, we can say that the
individual and the society in general are at stake.
The transformation of media and television into a commodity
resulted worldwide in the emergence of giant monopolistic companies in the west. This will undoubtedly lead to the
predominance of marketing instead of promoting the television’s
cultural and democratic dimension. Today, there is fear that
television would turn into a commercial commodity, subject
to the buying and selling law, which means consuming and the
achievement of the watching pleasure. Bourdieu assumes for
example that television turned into a flood and a tremendous
amount of information, which encourages the shallow and
artificial thinking, and this is the major manifestation of the
encounter between the television and globalization. Thus, how
can the public television be patriotic, defending democracy,
and at the same time not ignore the potential advantages of
globalization. This could be the major challenge facing the
public service television in the Arab World amid the democratic
transition such as in Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan.
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