The state gazette of the Kingdom of Bahrain is soon to be made available updated and regularly, in cooperation with the e-Government and the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) has been upgraded to a General Directorate, making it the first national organization providing official information, news and statements of the government, said the State Minister for Information Affairs Authority, Sameera bin Rajab, detailing the Five Year strategic plan of the Ministry of State for Information Affairs.
"In addition, promoting the establishment of acadamies in the private sector for training media professionals and content creation houses to help raise the bar of Bahrain television programmes has been opened as areas to attract investments in the five year plan for 2013 to 2018," the State Minister for Information Affairs Authority, Sameera bin Rajab told the Bahrain News Agency.
Addressing the press conference on the strategic plan of the Ministry of State for Information Affairs, the minister ruled out foreign ownership of news media for Bahrain. "As it stands now foreign ownership is ruled out.
Any media outlet will have to have Bahraini participation," she said. She, however, said that a feasibility study was being conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Housing and the Bahrain Journalists Association for a journalists' housing project.
This project, she said, is in compliance with the directives of His Majesty the King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The ministry is seeking to accelerate the construction of new facilities in the Information Affairs Authority (IAA), to develop the media and official media channels based on the new organizational structure.
Outlining the new organizational structure, the minister said, a general directorate for external communications would be established with three departments under it.
Elaborating on the three departments, the minister read, a press affairs directors, concerned with local press affairs and accredited foreign correspondents would be established.
It would also engage in the supervision and organization of press conferences and media events in the Kingdom of Bahrain in coordination with the relevant government bodies.
A directorate of media follow up would be established. It would be responsible for the provision of media communication support both locally and globally.
Ensuring cooperation with foreign media professional and journalists and helping them carry out their duties in the Kingdom smoothly will also be a part of this directorate's responsibility.
The third is the setting up of a new media directorate, that will supervise the process of publication and development of all electronic media which are affiliated to the IAA – such as the website and application of smartphones and tablet computers of radio and television channels and Bahrain News Agency.
In addition, it will also monitor the follow up and development of social networking accounts.
The minister said that the BNA is the main source of official news coverage and publication.
The news agency would continue with the signing of cooperation agreements with Arab and foreign news agencies to help show the world an unbiased account of Bahrain in many languages.
The agency services would be used to include ausio, video and live transmission. The creation of a new department for translating news into English and French in the first stage and to other official languages of the United Nations Organisations would be taken up, she said.
More editors-in-chief and editors for the various news sectors would be recruited, she said. News correspondents would also be posted abroad to ensure the presence of news professional from the Kingdom.
A new research and information department would be created to support the production and boosting the level of news and reports published by the agency. A dedicated agency office, expected to be ready by the month end, is allocated. The new office is expected to be equipped with the latest technology.
The General Directorate for Television and Broadcasting has been restructured to increase the number of radio and television channels over the five years. The emphasis will be on sports, economics, culture, tourism and history, said the minister.
A production department that will help increase the television programmes and documentaries has also been created. To encourage the creation of dramas a special department has also been created.
The outdoor relay operations, television and radio channels, satellite transmission and the development of high definition digital transmission, made it important to establish a general directorate for technical and technology affairs, she added.
A new media directorate has replaced the Publication and Press Directorate. It will issue permits and media activities according to legal controls, while supporting the media liberties and regulating the media sector.
The Huna Al Bahrain magazine is to be relaunched in paper and electronic forms as a general social and cultural magazine that reflects the civil image of Bahrain, the minister added.
New infrastructure is also expected to be constructed on the IAA premises to house the media and official channels. The ministry also aims to build institutional capacities for the sector by setting standards for media work in a manner that meets international standards, establish advanced government communications systems.
Al Rajab said that the strategic plan focuses on the comprehensive rehabilitation and development of the information and communication sector so that it supports professionalism in the sector, enhances national unity and the process of reform.
The new Plan also aims at introducing the reform project of His Majesty the King, the achievements of the government, the process of modernization and sustainable development to the local and international audience.
A coordination between the governmental apparatus and the media outlets is sought to be established.
The new strategy comprises 43 initiatives to be implemented over the next five years.
Already in the implementation stage are the completion of a nationwide comprehensive survey of the media and the communication sector in Bahrain, completion of a draft media and communications law, establishment of the independent Higher Authority for Media and Communications to boost media affairs and performance.
The establishment of the Office of the Government Spokesperson, creation of new studios and developing the old ones to stay in line with the latest audio visual media production, initiating a comprehensive training scheme for all IAA sectors are other areas under implementation.
Developing an action plan for external media communications relying on communications with foreign media, portraying the correct image of the country and responding to the incorrect and damaging reports form part of the initiatives being carried out.
Boosting the media presence of the Kingdom of Bahrain through winning the title of Manama as the Capital of Arab Press for 2013 and 2014 and plans to host the World Media summit in 2014 are among the key initiatives undertaken, considering that the media summit was previously held only in China and Russia.
The Five Year Plan is expected to draft a new law that regulates the media and communication sector in Bahrain, support journalists, media and communication professionals and boost the performance of the BNA and of the Radio and Television Directorate.
Rehabilitation of the print, audio-visual media and public relations, developing the electronic media sector and regulating the advertising media form part of the plan for the five years to come.
The minister, answering questions posed by journalists said the strategic plan was being implemented after much thought. The French and Moroccan models, she said, were followed.
Bahrain, she said, has its own views on the state of media affairs. "We follow world standards in laws on media and communication, providing freedom of the press and the freedom of expression. However, this is not to be exercised without restraint and the security of the country is paramount," she added to a question on the complaint of foreign correspondents that Bahrain is not free.