October 2005, more than 500 media development professionals
from dozens of countries gathered in Amman, Jordan for the first
summit of the Global Forum for Media Development, a new alliance
of organizations involved in media training activities around
The location of the gathering was significant: Jordan’s
King Abdullah has pointed toward the media as evidence of civil
society reforms meant to move his country on the road toward
democratization. To drive that message home to the assembled
media professionals, the government organized a panel discussion
involving then-Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Moasher and representatives
of the government-sponsored and independent press which turned
into a fascinating free-for-all debate over the difference between
cosmetic and structural reform. TBS senior editor Lawrence
Pintak recorded the fireworks. What follows is an edited
Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me in the beginning to welcome
you again and welcome our guests who came here from all around
the world. I wish you the best time and memories here in our
We will try in only two hours to conclude a national dialogue
that have started 15 years ago in 1984 when we continued our
path to democracy. We will talk here about the means for developing
the Jordanian media with all its forms, fields and areas. In
this dialogue we will have to specially concentrate on the obstacles
and difficulties that still occur on the way to reform.
The truth is that the Jordanian plan for the media is itself
the plan for democratic reform in the country including all
its stages and difficulties. Journalism and the media do not
grow in an environment isolated from all its surroundings and
surrounding changes. In fact we can say that the Jordanian media
and journalism were never in isolation from the surrounding
developments. The Jordanian media in the past one and a half
decade have accomplished a lot, something that reflects the
plurality of thinking.
There are margin of freedom of expression and opinion in this
difficult century appearing especially in the opinion pages
and columns not to mention of course the investigative journalism
and news standards. I specifically refer to the Jordanian media
when I say that the state owned media is leading some brave
steps and some hesitating steps towards reforming this plurality.
Still, it is below expectations. The irony lies in the fact
that the media still did not gain the trust of official authorities
in charge of managing, directing and funding it.
The Jordanian media still have to go through many stages to
be able to play its role in the industrial, economic and political
development of the country.
The main speakers -who represent the different participants
in the media operation in Jordan- will speak to us about their
opinions in this media reform and their expectations for the
future. We will know more about the changes that happened to
the legislative organization of the media and the media as a
representative of rights and freedoms and responsibilities.
We will see the consequences of dissolving the ministry of information
and establishing the Supreme Council of Information. We will
follow up with the increasing role of the private sector in
print journalism and audio and visual media. We will also take
a look at the role of media and journalistic institutions with
a special concentration on the press syndicate and its increasing
potential of raising the standards of freedom.
The debate will be stronger as we start discussing the compulsory
membership in the press syndicate. We will see what ideas and
recommendations the national agenda includes about this issue.
I have to mention again the strict timing for this session and
that we have to stick to the topics dealt with in it.
Please stand by the rules of the speech and respect the time
we have for comments so as to guarantee the guests their right
to speak. I wish you all the best in concluding to a group of
ideas and suggestions that serve enhancing the role the media
plays in reform and development and realizing the changes already
knocking our doors. Please allow me to introduce the main speakers,
PhD Marwan al Muasher who is the deputy prime minister and PhD.
Mustafa Hamadi the president of the Strategic Studies Center
and Miss Rana Al Sabagh a writer and journalist and an instructor.
She has been hired lately as a member of Areej which is a journalistic
institution. Miss Rola AL Farra a media woman and a journalist.
1 (Marwan Al Muasher):
First I do not think that the recommendations are controversial
except when it comes to dealing with the membership of the press
syndicate being compulsory. I hope no recommendations are taken
concerning canceling the obligation of membership. We are not
talking here about a conflict between us and the pres syndicate
which we respect very much. We are talking here about the freedom
of the media. Freedom of the media needs some fundamental basics.
We have tried in more than one session to enhance this freedom.
The commission by the way is composed of people from all the
parts of the society. It is not restricted to a certain person.
It is representative of all the media players including 3 of
the 4 main newspapers in the country. The commission has spent
a lot of effort to come up with the recommendations. There are
19 recommendations and not only one. Before we start looking
at them I would like to say that it is not only about media
legislations. We are still in the phase of transformation. We
used to have the state completely control information outlets.
We are changing to allow more freedom and independence and we
are not over yet with this transformation phase.
We have some legislations but there are many more still to come
on the way. It is true we dissolved the ministry of information
but we do not yet have a professional office that helps the
foreign speaker express about the country. We are speaking about
dissolving the ministry of information and not dissolving the
role of the media and the right of the country to defend itself
and its position.
Then we have the culture of our society. I would really like
to stress on this point very much. Any person in charge in our
country whether he is a minister or a critic or a journalist
or even a normal citizen is not ready to accept criticism and
listen to the other points of view. We do not have a civilized
dialogue respecting differences of opinion. When we disagree
with someone we describe him/her as someone with an external
agenda or that they are traitors etc. There is not civilized
dialogue which promotes us to practically respect the others’
Please allow me to put forward the 19 recommendations that have
been raised to his majesty the King.
1. Having a general law regulating the media outlets according
to the constitutional rights of the Jordanians in expressing
their opinion in all available media.
2. These outlets include but are not limited to journalism and
publications in print and the audio and visual media and the
internet and the news agencies.
3. The Jordanians have the right to own media outlets as individuals
or institutions or organizations or associations or private
or public companies without any restrictions and according to
the rules put by the regulating systems.
4. The direct and indirect contributions of the government to
the ownerships of media outlets are to be limited and do not
pass a certain point to guarantee that it does not affect the
media and to preserve the independence of these outlets. The
State Television and Radio as well as the Jordanian News Agency
are exempted from this legislation. A Legislation is being formed
to differentiate between the ownership of the state and the
5. The Cabinet assigns the members of the council for the Jordanian
television and radio and the Jordanian news agency according
to the standards and rules of these institutions. The King appoints
the director of the corporation and the agency. The television
and radio council will be independent in stating its editorial
policies and will be held responsible of executing them.
6. According to article 7 of the constitution the state will
propose a law that protects the privacy of the individuals against
insults and abuse of the media.
7. State employees are prohibited from imposing a censorship
on the media or directing it or adjusting its working methods.
8. According to what have been previously mentioned, no journalist
can be suspended for mentioning his opinion or telling information
and all the cases dealing with media and publications will be
dealt with through the judiciary.
9. No media institution can be shut down or closed or delayed
or have its license withdrawn for any reason until the judiciary
gives its sentence.
10. The supreme council of information will be dissolved and
the state will work on encouraging the representatives of media
outlets to form an independent council of their own. This council
will bear the responsibility of issuing an annual report about
the issues of journalism and put out a professional code of
honor for the practices of media and journalism.
11. A corporation will be established for the regulation of
the information sector. Under that corporation’s supervision
will be the council of the audio and visual media and the department
of publication and print after amending the rules for each of
a. The corporation’s council will develop a plan to issue
licenses for newspapers and prints and the council will not
be allowed to reject any application for publishing a newspaper
for any outstanding legal demands.
b. A study is to be conducted to merge the council regulating
the media with the council issuing licenses. To guarantee the
independence of the system, the owner of any media institution
or editors in chief or managing editors or any journalist writing
in any media institution will not be allowed to accept any aid
or benefit or any financial grant or any grant what so ever
from any Jordanian or non-Jordanian. Any government official
or person in charge in the state or employee will be prosecuted
if he/she offered a grant (be it financial or of any kind) to
an editor in chief or managing editor or journalist working
at any media institution or any writer in the Jordanian media
13. The Jordanian cabinet will appoint leaders according to
transparency standards to organize the publishing of official
advertisements and subscriptions to media so as to protect public
14. The membership of journalists in the press syndicate will
not be obligatory.
15. A law will be issued concerning information outlets that
will state the system limiting media monopoly to protect the
public opinion from a small number of individuals owning more
than one information outlet. It will also organize the integration
of these outlets.
16. The plan for a free press and freedom of expression will
a. The citizens will have the right to access all the ideas
and information in all the fields.
b. All the people and syndicates and the clubs will be provided
the space to express their ideas and opinions and achievements.
c. The right to get information and news and statistics from
all sources of information and spreading this information and
publishing and commenting on it.
d. The right for the media institutions and journalists working
in these institutions to keep unannounced their sources of information.
outlets will have at all times to be accurate in what they publish
or broadcast to preserve the balance and objectivity and will
have at all times to make sure of their sources of information
and to comply with the law rules.
18. The media will have to explain the nature of their paid
advertising material by clarifying to the reader or viewer doubtlessly
what ideas the advertisement are carrying.
19. All legislations related to information outlets will be
amended to be made public with the text of the media law and
which do not conflict in text or form with the general principles
of the media. It is a must to make public all the standards
for increasing editorial material in a very responsible way
putting in mind the plurality and opposite opinions. And for
the first time we depute establishing private radio and television
of the law submitted to the government also has some amendments:
allowing investments in that important sector and assuring that
the audio and visual media is included in this. Also the legislation
stated a mechanism that guarantees transparency. This will be
through the telling of any individual to guarantee competition
and support freedom of expression and opinion and to guarantee
objectivity and being professionally balanced.
All this pours -as a matter of fact- in the re-structuring of
the Jordanian media according to two principles. First is independence
and all the legislations emphasize this. Second is the reports
of the media organizations that are mentioned in this document.
Here we are now in front of a media council without a real assessment
of dissolving the ministry of information which happened two
years ago. Please speak to us about the experience of the high
council of information. Do you have comments about the mentioned
recommendations and what do you say about the council of information?
I would like to thank all the speakers here. I would like to
discuss here some of the problems that occurred since we established
the council. Actually there were many problems. I am happy that
some of the recommendations -in fact many of them- are important
for the solving of troubles in some of the media fields. As
we approach the steps of new reform, a new law was made last
year as a permanent law. The law decreed its goals and powers
based on 4 main points. We can here illustrate the results of
running this law for the past years and see if it really achieved
what it was issued for.
The first point is the legislative point. The law was supposed
allow proposing legislations serving the organizing of the media
according to a main plan by the state and to re-structure the
Jordanian media. On the legislative level the council has achieved
a large number of legislations. First of all is the decree of
a law that regulates the journalism and the press. This project
was completed in 2003 and is currently still in the parliament
for verification. This legislation stresses on the use of a
system that guarantees the freedom of the journalist while in
duty and the prohibition of stalling him or imprisoning him
in cases related to publishing. This was put forward by PhD
Marwan Al Muasher.
Also in the rules governing the violations of audio and visual
media, the decision is up to the state court and not to any
other corps. With respect to the legislation concerning the
audio and visual media, this legislation is currently in process
in the parliament and it grants the radio and television financial
and administrative independence in addition to the editorial
and legal independence. We have to stress here that the television
and radio are confirmed to be free media through encouraging
investments in this important sector and through creating a
system that guarantees its transparency. All the legislations
stress on the independence of media institutions.
The other point is allowing more freedom in all types of Jordanian
media whether it is audio, visual or print. The council has
also proposed to the cabinet with a law that guarantees the
right of getting information and that will not be limited to
the media which suffers from this problem but will be extended
to the public in general.
Another law will be amended with this law. That is the law protecting
international cooperation rights. The documents that have passed
the 30 years period should be available for the public.
There are also two systems in addition to the previously stated
laws. First, amending the employing system in the media and
allowing for the official spokesman and the government to express
its opinion. Second is a system that states the basis for the
financial, editorial and administrative independence of the
Jordanian news agency.
The best example to give is months ago a report was issued on
the practices of media freedoms in Jordan. That report had a
proper scientific basis and was in equal terms with the practical
world. It said that the freedom of expression in Jordan was
still proportional and was not graded high or very high. This
is very objective and based on scientific measures.
Also in my study now and in an analysis of the topics dealt
with in Jordanian newspapers, I propose this question: Do the
newspapers really allow for all opinions, are they open on all
the sectors of the society, and deal with all the issues requiring
follow-up? With respect to weekly newspapers, and when analyzing
their contents, what are the issues dealt with in the newspapers
and what are the main differences between them and the daily
On the other hand the council has established a center for media
training which is now teaching a number of about 22 courses
in the journalism field. Next year there will be courses for
television inside the TV studio. This proves our persistence
on raising the standards of the administrators.
Finally, it is clear that the council’s complaints about
the media and the issues of freedom of the press and expression
are not exaggerated. We have to check if there are complaints
from institutions and individuals about issues of expression
and about the independence of the media institutions. We also
have to make sure that journalists are not put under pressures
which affect their professionalism. All the media reforms do
not conflict with the points mentioned by the deputy prime minister
about the national agenda including those dealing with dissolving
PhD Mustafa Hammadi the vice president of the radio and television
corporation speaks to all the institutions of the state about
the state media, not a media that protects the plurality of
Jordan. Amid large amounts of freedom claimed and the civilized
and political media dialogue, what are the skills that can promote
reforms in the radio and television corporation which is considered
to be the main frame of Jordanian media.
3 (Mustafa Hammadi):
The media institutions are in an critical transformation phase
and putting this in mind we have to help in its consolidation.
We need to make proper use of this phase to go to the next one
where plurality and political participation are a norm. If we
relate this to the nature of government formation, we’ll
find that there are two kinds of dialogue. There is the public
announced dialogue and there is the dialogue behind closed doors
directed to the officials in the institutions. There is a big
difference between the two dialogues.
We have to open our radio and television institutions in for
political participation and do what the media does in the next
session. We plan and execute. Otherwise we will have to choose
between one of two roads. The first is political reform. The
government or any coming government will go along with the board
of directors and convert the council to a development tool.
The second will be resistance. This will be a very difficult
and tiring job. It will be faster to do what we are doing now.
We have to stay determined on the reform from within. The problem
mainly lies in the law regulating shaping the boards of directors.
The radio and television board of directors is the only one
that did so successfully. It wanted to reform itself according
to the law and make a qualitative change. This change is just
like PhD Marwan Al Muasher have said, about the culture of this
society. We can not discuss the issue as if it is a war between
the boards of the television and Radio corporations and the
governments. We do not need to fight. We are asking for developments
and wide amendments that accumulate to allow us to go forward
in this field. We are proceeding slowly in spite of the fact
that we are stable.
Vice president of the press syndicate: the syndicate is now
in the process of gathering voices about some of the recommendations
of the national agenda especially the part dealing with the
membership being compulsory. We do not know what will happen
after that. Why is all this campaign and why doesn’t the
syndicate play its role in amending its laws and improving its
programs. Why is all this delay in playing the proper role?
I salute you all. The president of the syndicate was actually
supposed to be the one speaking but he is working now. It seems
the speech will be about the membership of the syndicate being
compulsory. The syndicate was founded in 1953 and includes until
now 652 journalists and 150 trainees. The syndicate has been
practicing it work according to laws issued by the Jordanian
parliament. These laws defined the journalist as the one who
works in journalism and who is a member of the press syndicate.
This definition is for a reason. It was never for the sake of
making the membership of the syndicate obligatory. In fact there
are people who are not members of the syndicate and who own
media institutions. This is not the point. The point was to
guarantee the commitment of the journalists to their duties.
There must not be any clash of interests between their duties
as journalists and their role in directing the media and the
public opinion, and between their work on the other side as
lawyer or police officers or otherwise in any non-media institutions.
The journalist in Jordan has to be independent. It is from here
that it appeared the issue of the journalists’ independence.
Other people call it compulsory membership. No article in the
laws of the syndicate state that membership in the syndicate
is compulsory. The editor in chief in Jordan has to be a member
in the syndicate and enjoy all the benefits provided, legal
protection for instance. A journalist does not want to stand
in front of the general attorney without having besides him
the president of the press syndicate or someone representing
him. This is a kind of protection and legal care for Jordanian
journalists. There are also many other benefits such as social
and medical insurance and housing and provided by the syndicate.
We in the syndicate say that the freedom of expression is not
a privilege to the journalists only but is also for all the
Jordanian people. That is why the code of honor at the syndicate
penalizes any journalist violating the privacy of people, because
privacy of lives is protected by law. The syndicate always protects
the journalists from governments. The press syndicate has demonstrated
many times and its members have been beaten in the streets when
some of the governments in the nineties tried to introduce laws
that stand against public freedoms. Also the press syndicate
at one of the stages filed a case to cancel the law of publications
when one of the governments tried to gather the voices of journalists
and that is not a part of the duties of journalist. Of course
the syndicate is a member of the international journalists union
and the world journalists union.
The syndicate has a point of view about the foreign funding.
The syndicate says that not all the funding is in secret. The
syndicate does not mind any funding from say the United Nations’
different offices like the UNESCO or even the European Union,
but the syndicate fears a lot the funding operations done behind
the state’s back and behind the back of any other supervising
body to the benefit of individuals in Jordan or funding granted
from outsiders right into the journalists’ pockets.
What I really fear now is the fact that this funding is no more
directed at training journalists. It has extended to offer direct
information to governments. If this is the case, then we are
in a dangerous situation and the syndicate can not accept this
because this is a violation of the state’s sovereignty.
As for the recommendations, the journalists are today suspending
all their duties in all the journalistic institutions in the
private and public sector as well as in the Jordanian News Agency
for an hour in response to the demands of the syndicate’s
council. Also the syndicate’s council launched a campaign
to elaborate the average membership levels in the syndicate
to the house of dignitaries and we had the full agreement and
cooperation of the presidents of the council of the syndicate
and the house of dignitaries. There will be a protest next Tuesday
for the syndicate in front of the cabinet of ministers headquarters
to support the position of the syndicate. This will not be against
the government but rather against the recommendation of the
agenda. It will be in front of the cabinet headquarters because
the national council of the agenda takes the cabinet building
as its headquarters. We want to deliver our opinion and make
known our position and we want to say that this recommendation
is strictly against the journalists because the syndicate is
technically a body regulating the profession. The Jordanian
governments always allowed syndicates for professions such as
the syndicate of engineers and teachers and lawyers the right
to regulate the practices of the profession.
We are playing our role using this right. This issue deeply
touches the Jordanian people. The syndicate is one of the largest
bodies defending the freedom of expression and the freedom of
the press and journalists. We support many of the other recommendations
and in fact agree with 99% of the recommendations because they
are vital. Thank You
I am a member in the syndicate for 20 years now. For us, there
was no other choice. If we had another choice maybe this would
not have been the case. The syndicate tried to help in many
I stand with the freedom of choice. The syndicate is a center
for choice arbitration. No difference is there between a Jordanian
working in Reuters in the news gathering and another person
working in a Jordanian newspaper. Are we more loyal? The syndicate
itself develops its rules and is widening the base for membership.
Unfortunately we do not deal with problems unless they happen.
I am with the freedom of choice. We were speaking now about
the independence of the media. I do not believe that the syndicate
was ever independent except lately. I work in the news gathering
and always attended the events of the syndicate.
The intelligence used to send a fax to all the Jordanian news
papers in which it put the name of the president and the vice
president of the syndicate. That was the case before the independence
of the syndicate. Many times the syndicate prevented us from
expressing different views. I am a journalist and this means
that I cover different opinions and viewpoints. Say for example
I wanted to conduct an interview with Shimon Perez or Sharon.
I will have then to understand what he says and thinks. The
syndicate will usually kick me out because I violated the inner
code of ethics. How can I become a journalist and deliver my
opinion when I am threatened that if I talk about Israel I will
be kicked out of the syndicate. Many colleagues have been kicked
out of the syndicate because they criticized Israel. God bless
Abdallah Hasanat whom everyone remembers. Some also were suspended
from the syndicate as prejudice. We are living in a country
were law rules inside all institutions and it is the rule of
law that determines if a person can or can not be a journalist.
The syndicate always repeats that as journalists we have to
be members in the syndicate. A carpenter may be able to write
his opinion. Any technician may be able to write his opinion.
Lots of people can write and yet they do not make use of the
benefits provided by the syndicate. What have the syndicate
offered to those who write in many places? Nothing. What have
they offered to those who paid subscriptions? Nothing.
I once had a complaint against the president of a board of directors.
Neither the president of the syndicate nor his representative
talked to me. Yet I am obligated to join the syndicate. When
I face the general attorney, I better have a lawyer with me.
The syndicate does not offer me any protection.
The Syndicates are a part of the Russian folklore and a part
of the totalitarian regimes. It is not a part of the Jordanian
folklore. Thank You PhD. Marwan Muasher.
About the audio and visual media, why is there a distinction
between planning the audio and visual media and planning the
I would like to summarize this very quickly. The audio and visual
media body was established according to the law issued on 16-12-2002.
Some of the attendances are very late introducing private investment
to this field. It has been late but better late than never.
This body organizing running the audio and visual media practiced
its role according to the law. It is briefly a licensing authority
for the public and private sector and it refuses any monopolizing
of the public sector by issuing laws preventing that.
The law of radio and television which is now the radio and television
corporation is one of the main players in the media field. Issuing
a law that allows private investments in radio and television
broadcasting is a big development. There is an unprecedented
tendency in this law -unlike many of the other Arab countries
in the Middle East- to allow unlimited foreign investments in
this sector. There is however a demand for the evaluation. There
are no restrictions at all in what is called the general system
regulating investments. Until now the real work is concentrated
in issuing licenses for broadcasting. The organization issued
13 FM radio licenses. We have 8 live stations running now. We
have 5 under construction and are expected to go on air in the
coming weeks. We have a license for terrestrial television broadcasting
and 3 licenses for satellite broadcasting. This is all a proof
of foreign investment. The first license issued by the audio
and visual organization was for a Romanian-Jordanian company.
Now we have a company broadcasting and distributing terrestrial
channels in Jordan. The license is according to the cabinet
resolution number 18 and it is obvious that the cabinet has
the right to accept or reject any license without declaring
Please allow me to discuss some of the notes about this point
in particular. It might seem unfair not to mention the right
to reject or accept the licensing. The writer of this law was
very right. The main determining point is the frequency. Because
if any one applies for a license among a group of applicants
and we have only one, the prime minister will be the one in
charge in giving the license to the party he decides will get
it. The legislator was right in making this decision or other
wise the applicants will retreat to court.
Mr. Mohammed Al Aryan referred to licenses for audio and visual
broadcasting at the end of his speech. I totally agree because
it is the private sector’s right to invest and so create
a real competition in the field.
I believe that the television and radio programs have a real
problem after the law allowed the presence of other players
in the field in Jordan. The Jordanian television and radio have
to improve their programming. As PhD Marwan Muasher said we
are facing a real challenge right now calling for the improvement
All I have left to say is that we have only now thought of putting
general policies regulating this sector and we know that there
are some issues that really have to be dealt with before we
encounter a real problem. Fortunately we did not encounter any
problems until now but we may in the near future. This broadcasting
field is known to be a wide and large one and that is why we
have to put general policies for this sector to be regulated
to be able to answer some questions in the field.
The private sector started investing in the field of the media
for years. It started with the print media and here it is now
in the audio and visual media. What are the obstacles and problems
facing this investment?
I will have to speak quickly I believe. I would like to thank
my colleague from the press syndicate. I would like to propose
a suggestion here. Any profession requires learning and going
to the university. A university degree is required for an engineer
or a doctor to practice his job. The journalist also requires
a degree. But an economist can be a journalist and so can be
a politician or an artist. So can we define the journalist as
the one graduating with a degree in journalism?
I want to think about the new law regulating the press and publications
which is a good one and is now in front of the parliament in
The journalist is defined as the member in the syndicate. Is
this logical? This is not my only point. The recommendations
by PhD Marwan Al Muasher were great and it would be much better
if we see them in practice. Our problem is not limited to legislations.
Our problem has many aspects. The legislations are one of them.
Other aspects of our problems lie in who are putting the legislations
in action. The problems starts with the young kids. This is
what I suggested in my paper. In the modern world we have what
is called “Education for Democracy” which starts
in Kinder Garden and continues to the highest levels of education.
Even if now the national agenda comes up with these very good
recommendations, and we have them legislated. Assuming this,
we have the main problem of who is in charge of putting them
into action. PhD Marwan Al Muasher in his speech said that some
of the officials do not accept criticism from the media or the
PhD Mustafa Hammadi spoke clearly about a case of schizophrenia
in the governments that say something in the public to the world
and to the international arena and in the media and give orders
for something else to the reporters and producers in the television.
All the journalists complain from pressures imposed on them
because they tried to offer some space for the different opinions
that are probably far from the governments’ opinion. The
problem does not lie in a crippled system but rather in those
in charge of putting words into actions.
I would like to comment on Mr. Hisham who said that it is to
the benefit of the journalists to join the syndicate. It is
really insulting for the journalists to join the syndicate in
this way. As a matter of fact this is the patriarchy we are
used to. It is the parents covering. “I know better than
you and so it is better if you listen to me and do what I tell
I think we are grown ups and every one of us has the right to
choose the bridge that best suits him.
Finally the syndicates are a type of civil society institution.
It should not be influenced by the state. The press syndicate
is there to regulate the profession internally between its members
through dialogue. I might not agree with the syndicate on certain
issues. But still I should not be a member to become a journalist.
All around the world, a journalist is never to be arrested for
an opinion he expressed. No arrests are done until a sentence
is issued by the judiciary. Even then the punishment will be
through a fine and still he will never be sentenced to jail
because this is the style used for terrifying journalists.
My next point is what Mr. Hisham mentioned about the law protecting
the secrets of the state. Do we really have to wait for 30 years
to know something about what happened in the Gulf war? This
really contradicts the concept of the spread of information
and the right to fully access information.
Licensing for example in the modern world is not done to take
permission to publish. Any local or individual has the right
to publish a newspaper or a bulletin or any publication expressing
his opinion. PhD Marwan Al Muasher said that any individual
or institution can own a newspaper so does this mean that a
company should be publishing the newspaper in order to get a
I also want to make a note about the free media zone in Jordan.
We all had great expectations when his majesty the king delivered
his speech in the parliament and asked for a media city. We
all hoped that the whole of Jordan becomes a media center and
not only a piece of land granted for a large amount of money
or sold for a larger amount of money to establish on it a media
zone that broadcasts freely to the world. If we want a free
market and that is Jordan’s slogan “free market”
and if we want to compete with the United Arab Emirates and
the Arab Republic of Egypt, then the whole of Jordan has to
be a free media zone.