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«Private radio stations face challenges in Morocco»

The biggest audience for Morocco's private radio stations is youth. But not everyone is happy with how they are serving their listeners.

By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat – 27/12/10

Morocco authorised private radio stations four years ago, as part of the effort to end the government's monopoly of the audio-visual sector.

Experts decided it was time for a progress update.

"The radio stations run into challenges, in terms of respecting the plurality in society and presenting democratic media that mirrors the existing multiplicity within society," said Moroccan Centre for Contemporary Studies and Research (CMERC) chief Moustapha El Khalfi, whose organisation hosted a December 18th forum in Rabat to assess the status of the stations.

"Language constitutes yet another challenge, as some stations – though a few – slipped into using a rather debased variant of the language," El Khalfi added. "There is also the challenge of content, at a time when entertainment has prevailed over serious programs: e.g. news programmes and cultural programmes. Another challenge lies in professional ethics and the boundaries between media and publicity."

The biggest audience for radio stations is Moroccan youth, the CMERC chief admits. But things have not worked out as planned.

"Unfortunately, they were unable to undertake the positive role they were supposed to shoulder within the framework of enhancing values of democracy and citizenship," El Khalfi noted.

In 2006, the High Authority for Audiovisual Communications (HACA) granted the first ten radio licences to Radio Aswat, Atlantic, Cape Radio, Chada FM, Hit Radio, MFM Saiss, Souss FM, Atlas FM Radio Plus Marrakech and Radio Plus Agadir.

Med Radio, Radio Mars, Medina FM Radio Lux received their licences in 2009. Despite the many positive aspects to these private radio stations, such as enhancing the principle of diversity, broadcasting live shows and boldly raising issues, some problems remain, according to media researcher Yahya El Yahyaoui.

The biggest issue is what he calls the "linguistic calamity", which leaves listeners totally confused, unable to decide whether the language being used is Arabic, French or even a new colloquial variant.

For his part, media professor Mustapha Taleb wondered whether the radio stations "were in line with the identity and values of the Moroccan society". He agreed that it took some boldness to discuss certain topics, which was "indeed positive".

"The problem lies in the manner of handling them, which may risk promoting moral degeneracy," Taleb noted.

Magharebia, 27 décembre 2010


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