Organizing the Arab Media Congress

A special committee has therefore been established to assess the work of the two Higher Committees and their activities and to propose appropriate solutions and alternatives to address the gaps identified. The committee held a meeting on 26 and 27 October 2018 in Tunis to discuss in depth the difficulties that have hindered the activities of the two Committees over recent years and the developments in the Arab media scene. As a matter of fact, this scene witnessed an upsurge in Arab satellite broadcasting, an invasion of foreign media and an overlapping and increasing complexity of the roles of the actors in the Arab media landscape. It should also be noted that the two Committees faced problems in the implementation of the goals set despite the attempts to design reform measures to give effect to their activity and to step up their performance.

The members of the special committee also discussed the solutions and alternatives proposed by ASBU General Directorate, including the adoption of an alternative to the two Committees through the organization of the "Arab Media Congress" in accordance with specific conditions and mechanisms. The Arab Media Congress is interested in audiovisual media and discusses important issues regarding radio, television, new media and the various components and sectors of the media scene in the Arab region.

In terms of form, ASBU has proposed that the Congress should act mainly as a think-tank with the following characteristics:

  • All stakeholders in the media sector must be involved in the Congress. This includes ministers, senior officials and decision-makers at the governmental level and at the level of public and private media institutions, professionals from different walks of life and the organizations with which they are affiliated, academics and experts, funders, representatives of the civil society, organizations that defend the interests of certain social groups or minorities with special needs (the disabled, children, women, consumers, the Arab diaspora communities, etc.)
  • The Congress, held once every year or every other year in one of the Arab countries, is hosted by one of the broadcasting corporations or the ministries of information in coordination with ASBU. In the absence of a host country, the conference is held on the occasion of the Arab Radio and Television Festival in Tunis.
  • In order to open up to global experiences in the field and to ensure access to the latest trends and changes in the global media sector, the conference welcomes the participation of foreign experts and professionals, representatives of regional and global professional associations, renowned media organizations and representatives of digital equipment manufacturers, etc.
  • The Congress should deal with common issues in a professional way, without any political interference. It should focus on addressing the core issues in production and exploitation in terms of content, technology, interacting with the public and serving key media objectives.
  • In addition to the plenary opening and closing sessions, the conference organizes an important number of parallel sessions and side events to discuss relevant issues and situations. It limits itself to making recommendations and conclusions that enlighten decision makers and it prepares guidelines or guides to be used by media professionals. This makes it possible to avoid the difficulty to design a binding implementation mechanism in the current Arab context.
  • This conference should not turn into a permanent body with headquarters, a secretariat and departments that are more concerned with the Congress sustainability than with the issues it should reflect on and debate.
  • The Congress discusses the various media components and sectors in the Arab region and is not limited to radio, television or the new media.

It is widely admitted that the main weakness of media in the Arab world is first and foremost the poor content that is far from being appealing, convincing, persuasive or entertaining. We know very well that our radio and television programs, both in terms of form and content, are far from matching the quality of what is produced and broadcasted in other countries, despite all the attempts made in this regard. The difficulties we face in operating equipment and getting the necessary technical and technological updates to that end is key to explaining our limited utilization of leading-edge technologies.

Therefore, the media Congress should focus on overcoming these two weaknesses by deeply thinking on the wide range of issues facing media professionals and undermining their performance. A preliminary and non-exhaustive list of the most prominent issues and concerns includes:

  • Radio and television media and the problem of content production
  • Influential media trends and the way forward for the national and international media.
  • Producing more effective and interactive content
  • Factors behind the failure of the media message
  • Fast-paced developments in collecting and processing news at the national, regional and international levels
  • Do the media fight or fuel extremism?
  • How do the media contribute to developing methods of dialogue and discussion among members of the society and enriching the knowledge of the people?
  • The importance of national education in the media
  • How could we make our media messages clearer, more accurate and effective?
  • The status of "community media" in the Arab radio and television landscape
  • Local or regional radio stations
  • Digital Radio
  • The role and impact of social media networks
  • How do radio and television media face the challenges of new media from perceiving them as a threat to harnessing them? There is also the problem of "verification" the accuracy and credibility of the news disseminated on social networks before broadcasting them
  • The issues facing the print press in the light of changes in the media scene and what role the print press can play in the future.
  • Web Radio and Internet TV
  • Professional charters and ethical considerations in media work
  • Management of media organisations
  • The role of public media
  • Finance, advertising and property rights
  • How do we deal with the content of "transboundary" channels in relation to advertising and promotional programs intended for children and other minorities?
  • Media and sports rights, citizens' rights to follow major sporting events and the enactment of related legislation at the national and Arab levels
  • The status of people with special needs and their right to programs that take their needs into consideration
  • How to deal with the "chaos" of satellite channels?