On Friday, February 19th, 2016 the Maghreb Bureau for UNESCO organized a seminar for the International Radio Day to present the study on “Web Radios in Morocco”. The event was attended by representatives from a dozen of web radios as well as the High Authority for Audiovisual and Communications (HACA), the Chairman of World Association of Community-based Broadcasters and the General Secretary of the Ministry of Communication of the Kingdom of Morocco.
This study, conducted by Sebastien Negre, a consultant specialized in community radios, is an in depth investigation of 19 of the web radios of the 68 identified in the country. This initiative is part of the Maghreb bureau effort to promote freedom of speech both on and offline as well as media diversity and pluralism.
More than 40 participants from the different Moroccan Web radios answered our invitation. Among the attendees: Radio Campus Marrakech, Radio Ajial in Agadir, Darblanca in Casablanca, Mothers on Line in Tangiers, Sawte in Ouarzazate, e-Joussour in Rabat and Women of the South in Agadir.
In Morocco, the current legal framework of the media sector does not allow the web radios to have a presence on the airwaves. According to Sebastien Negre “Internet is the only media that allows the associations to promote their actions and principles to a wider audience.” This study also analyzed the various economical and editorial characteristics of these online medias. As a community media, they mainly raise issues surrounding youths, sex, employment, equality and citizenship.
Jamal-Eddine Naji, the managing director of HACA and Founder of UNESCO/Orbicom Chair in “Public and Community Communication” within the Superior Institute of Information and Communication (ISIC) detailed in his opening statement the different steps that need to be taken toward a legal recognition of the community radios in Morocco. He urged the concerned parties to take concrete measures towards a legal recognition of these radios. For Michael Millward, the UNESCO representative for the Maghreb, promoting these community radios “allows citizens; through a better representation both online and on the airwaves; to take charge of their future through more communication, exchanges and better mutual understanding” Furthermore, Emmanuel Boutterin, the Chairman of AMARC, declared: “We - at AMARC - are here by Morocco’s and UNESCO side. We are ready to provide our expertise to the government and civil society on the legal framework and regulations necessary to the development of this field, in order to support this process towards more pluralism, freedom of speech, information and cultural diversity with regard to the culture and identities which is essential for the promotion of democracy.”
During this seminar, the attendees participated in two workshops in the afternoon. These workshops were aimed to help guide the Moroccan participants in their efforts towards a legal recognition of these radios. In the first workshop, they were introduced to the management principles for the web radios. Then, they were given an in-depth argument for the legal recognition of these community radios.
The organization of this event was possible thanks to the support of the Swedish and Finnish cooperation within a program for the promotion of Freedom of Speech in MENA.