A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bad Times for Media in Egypt and Morocco

The crackdown on the independent media in Egypt is getting worse, and though I haven't mentioned it things aren't bright for Morocco's independent media either.

Egypt first. The Ibrahim Eissa firing seems more and more to have been a planned strike, probably with government backing: Sayyid Badawi, the Wafd Party head and businessman who bought the paper with partner Reda Edward, has now announced that he has sold his shares to Edward; so it looks more and more as if Badawi's role was to fire Eissa and then sell is shares. Edward says Eissa will not be rehired. Updates are here and here. The silencing of Al-Dostour and Eissa is not all, however: the government has ordered four satellite TV channels to shut off service (some of them Salafi/Islamist) and is demanding that newspapers obtain a license before sending text message updates to subscribers' phones.

Absolutely no one seems to doubt that this crackdown, seen by some as ending the "Cairo Spring" of press freedom in recent years, is intended to smooth the way for a succession.

One of Morocco's most daring magazines, the colloquial-Arabic Nichane, had to shut down recently after a government-inspired boycott on advertising cut its revenues by some 80%. In this case, the pressure was purely financial: Morocco's big state-owned corporations, including many owned by the Palace, backed the boycott, which killed the magazine. Stories here and here; see also here.

Of course in many Arab countries there is nothing resembling a free press, so the crackdowns in Egypt and Morocco would make little sense in Libya or Syria (though Syria has toyed with some independent media). But when a relatively outspoken paper like Al-Dostour sees its editor purged and an innovative magazine like Nichane closes due to a government ad boycott, its a rollback to what has already been achieved.

1 comment:

xoussef said...

A bit late but seriously, every rebellious teenager knows not to rely on his parents allowance. How did grown up professional journalists expect to be financed by the very people they are setting themselves to systematically displease? And it's a fact that all the big advertisement spenders are partially owned or want to keep at least neutral for business sake.
So much wining is frankly annoying, they should just shut up and open a low cost operation.