With the outbreak of the December 17, 2010 revolution in Tunisia, the media sector, which had been for decades under the banner of power, was liberated, and the Tunisian citizen was given the freedom to choose between multiple television and radio channels, after he was governed by only two government channels.
The climate of freedom allowed the emergence of the private media, which became a fierce competitor to the government media. However, this free and pluralistic media landscape was not without its shortcomings and weaknesses.
Among the most recent of these hinds is what was broadcast by the private channel Al-9th in its program on December 26, and it sparked widespread controversy in Tunisia due to its sexual connotations about women, as described by Facebook pioneers.
The High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HAICA) intervened, sending the channel’s management a notification of a violation related to the episode’s content, which it considered “a violation of human dignity, an insult to women, and a stereotype of their image.”
Commenting on this big controversy, the presenter of the media program, Nawfal Al-Wartani, saw, in a video clip on his Instagram page, that the matter was related to the poor choice of the game, so his words were subject to interpretation, and pictures were published from certain angles, which made people misunderstand the idea of the competitions.
Al-Wartani apologized for “despite the exaggeration in criticism and reaction” – according to his estimation – accusing suspicious Facebook pages and colleagues in the sector of “hate” him by exploiting the issue, working to exaggerate it and mobilizing public opinion and the sector’s organizing bodies against him.
The expert in media and communication strategies, Reda Al-Kazdagli, believes that the media sector in Tunisia has not yet recovered from the positive shock that occurred to it after the revolution.
Al-Kazdaghli explained – to Al-Jazeera Net – that the media at the organizational level has become essentially linked to professional representations, which began to feel their ability to gather journalists and media professionals under their roof, and began to move without a strategic vision or ability to achieve this grouping by imposing performance based on the added value that can be To be granted to the media scene, according to his statement.
He added that this shock did not give journalists an opportunity to highlight their skills and impose a professional journalistic color, due to the presence of the party controlling money and investing in media institutions, who managed this role and pulled it towards it and imposed its agendas and directives on them.
He also described the performance of the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication unconvinced, and said that it had entered a phase of legal illegality and had become part of the problem, and was no longer able to solve it, which affected the media performance, according to his opinion.
Al-Kazdaghli emphasized that the public media “has also not recovered from this positive shock and is still lost until now looking for itself to lay out lines for media performance based on post-revolution options.” He pointed to the failure of the media in its three main roles in news, education and entertainment.
Regarding Al-Akhbar, he noticed “the citizen’s denial of his right to access information by announcing the Syndicate of Journalists is boycotting parties at the expense of others, which led him to find an alternative in the virtual media and citizens.”
He believes that “the media plays the role of education with a view that does not represent the citizen in his opinion and orientation, as well as entertainment, which today has become dependent on the mood of opinion makers and leaders in the media and cultural arena in a unilateral way.”
He stressed that the poor content in the entertainment variety will be forgotten as an accident, but it will entrench in the public opinion a negative view of the media.
He believes that the Tunisian media was required to be at the level of the moment of interaction with change after the revolution and to create a public opinion that keeps pace with the democratic and political transition and the social and economic stakes in the country, and to turn it into a lever for positive change rather than a pull back.
In turn, the director of the Tunis Center for Freedom of the Press, Mahmoud al-Thawadi, spoke of the existence of violations and abuses at the level of the media reality that contradict the terminology of professional controls such as serious, ethical and professional journalism.
Among the moral violations – Al-Thawadi says to Al-Jazeera Net – the penetration of corrupt money from inside and outside the Tunisian media, which makes several media institutions compete to subjugate and blackmail advertisers to finance them.
He pointed out that “the battle of viewership rates among media institutions, to ensure their chances of receiving advertising money or political money, has made the media scene a great degree of poor quality in more than one TV program.”
He cautioned that the corruption of some media institutions not only harm the recipient, but also the identity and position of the professional journalist in society, which is now under threat, because “the spectator does not differentiate between a professional journalist and an intruder broadcaster who provides these programs.”
In order to ensure a meaningful and serious media, Al-Thawadi stresses the necessity of establishing controls to regulate the media sector, such as ensuring the rights of professional journalists, and providing media material that is subject to ethical, professional and legal standards.
He called for the need to restore the professional structures to their role in the continuous monitoring of the media and exposing the transgressors, stressing that the phenomenon of mediocrity cannot be eliminated with moral lessons and disciplining the citizen, but rather by holding the owners of these institutions accountable for providing a “non-fraudulent” media product.
For his part, Al-Kazadagli stresses the necessity of a real professional revolution in the media content that reconsiders the big options.
He said that trade union organizations should “get out of the demanding political side” and shoulder with training institutions, especially the Institute of Journalism and civil society associations, the responsibility of re-engineering the media and restoring its value.