Wednesday, February 26, 2020
News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students


It's not censorship…really.

Yes, it happened. The Arab governments finally officially re-muzzled their already constricted press. They did it with a media charter…

By Heba Elasaad , in Arab press making the news Blogs , on March 13, 2008

Yes, it happened.

The Arab governments finally officially re-muzzled their already constricted press.

They did it with a media charter last month that, according to an official statement, is meant to be a “bold step towards supporting the Arab media industry” through it’s implementation of “a code of honour that balances between the values of freedom and responsibility.”

In other words, the Arab governments – minus those in Qatar and Lebanon who have not signed the agreement – have the right to take legislative action against satellite stations whose broadcasts harm “the supreme interests of Arab states,” are “in contradiction with the principles of Arab solidarity” or defame “leaders or national and religious symbols.”

One of the main issues with the code seems to be the fact that there are no clearly defined guidelines, giving authorities the opportunity to interpret and charge as they see fit.

Although, this can hardly be seen as surprising in a region where the consistently vague nature of the law is something reporters are more than familiar with.

Oh, and this isn’t really censorship anyway, says Salah Al Din Maawi, an Arab States Broadcasting Union official.
Never mind that this is a regulatory body consisting of members outside the profession, and never mind the fact that the credibility of independent reporting is even more at risk.

Actually, “the idea of censoring media has become outdated.” (His words translated.)

“All the regions of the world including Europe and America have their own standards and rules for regulating satellite broadcasting. We have been inspired by global values like banning any form of instigation of violence, sectarianism, broadcasting pornographic materials and harming social harmony.”

Yes. This code is very clearly modeled on Western approaches to media freedoms.

I think we are doing well.