Tunisia: Journalists and activists protested against a proposed Media bill
Ahead the parliament of Tunisia, journalists, and activists protested on Tuesday against a proposed law to make change in the media sector by eliminating the condition to have official licenses for television and radio stations.
The moderate Islamist Ennahda party and the media mogul Nabil Karoui, are among the bill’s supporters, the unlicensed Nessma television station played a major role in the campaign of Karoui for president last year. Nevertheless, almost 300 protesters at the demonstration of Tuesday declared that reducing licensing rules for media channels risks giving the power for the powerful outside interests to enter in Tunisia’s young democracy.
The president of the journalists’ labor syndicate, Mehdi Jlassi, said: This proposed amendment presents a real threat to democracy and for the press sector, adding: Cancelling licenses will open the door to corrupt money, politicians and perhaps extremists to control the sector.
Indeed, supporters of this law that it will be discussed by parliament on Tuesday, relates that it will allow the sector to develop and help in the creation of more news channels and create more jobs.
Moreover, the head of the pro-government Karama coalition in parliament, Saif Eddine Maklouf, reported that it would be good for Tunisians to have more TV channels to choose from beside the nine now available, and he doesn’t saw any nothing wrong with foreigners owning media. Whereas, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi declared last week that he supported any initiative that would liberalize the media sector, while ensuring its independence.
Otherwise, the protesters also protest against the provision in the law that would allow a simple parliamentary majority to design members of the media regulator instead of the two-thirds majority required currently. The protesters also said that if this bill will passed, this would allow parliamentary coalition parties support the government to control the media regulator, which may ending its independence,