Arabstoday had an interview with the man who has been responsible for Moroccan media since 1999. He talked about his project and his dreams. He stressed that the debates over the new book keeping by Communications Minister Mostafa Khalfy are professional, not political. He is Faisal Arichi, the Director General of the Moroccan National Company of Radio and Television ...
Arabstoday: Do you think that the debate over your work in the National Company of Radio and Television has shifted from mere media talk into a political debate when argued in the parliament?
Mostafa Khalfy: In the beginning I stress that our discussion about the bookkeeping is within the professional framework, not the political. I said that 80 percent of the proposals submitted to the ministry are included in the bookkeeping. We are now at the stage of evaluation and development of these proposals. As for the political debate over the bookkeeping, it is a very vital issue in a democratic society and politicians have their views and formats to express their attitudes from media means and they have democratic framework to express these views, but I as an official and a professional, I express my views about the bookkeeping without confusing between politics and media. There are constitutional principles and laws that determine the framework of the components of the public pole clearly and without any confusion, and I am committed to it.
AT: How do you assess the performance of public media amid the political dynamic experienced by Morocco?
MK: In my opinion the public media has done its task. All components of this media are engaged in the political dynamics witnessed by Morocco in recent months. Workers in the public sector have done a great job and it is clear in the discussions that are opened. The Moroccan channels have attracted the point of the Moroccan citizen in various stations, and thanks to all the competencies that worked tirelessly for the success of Moroccan channels.
AT: Does this mean that you are satisfied with the media in spite of the criticisms against it?
MK: I am always asked this question: are you satisfied as an administrator with the performance of the organisation you oversee it? Of course not, but if you ask me about my satisfaction towards workers , I would frankly say that I am satisfied with the performance of employees and colleagues in the various components of the public sector, but I also say that it is possible to do better.
AT: Some considered that your differences with Khalfy on the bookkeeping of the local channels will pave for a clash between the television officials and the government, after the good relationship with the previous governments, to what extent this prediction is true?
MK: I do not think so at all because we want to agree on the book keeping according to participatory philosophy based on dialogue and revealing facts. We will demand inquiries on points that are hard to be understood or difficult to be applied. In all fields, obstacles are resolved to reach a consensual solution. Our responsibility is to understand and activate the items in the bookkeeping.
AT: In relation to the subject, some considered that devoting channel 2 for real social problems will negatively impact the commercial revenue for this channel, and threaten the financial and productive stability, how would you rate these alterations?
MK: There is a global scientific concept which says that whenever a channel provides entertainment services along with educational and news services it achieve commercial revenue but I can not guarantee that devoting channel 2 to real social problem will reflect negatively, this needs to be assessed precisely in the sense that we will determine the network of programme as stipulated in the book keeping and take into account the commercial market so we can judge the reality and the future of the channel in relation to commercial revenue. However, I think that there is a margin for the proposal and the management of this network to enable us to maintain commercial revenues. We need financial potential to achieve our commitments to the government. This will be tackled during the discussions.
AT: Some considered that the delay of "the audiovisual" body in the announcement of the licenses of private channels, attached to pressures by you in order not to create private channels that could deprive the public channels of commercial resources, what is your comment?
MK: This is not true at all this may be due to misinterpretation of a question in a press statement about whether the commercial market is able to include new channels. I defend the conditions to create private channels. Competition is required for the development of national media. We have suggested looking for formulas to ensure commercial revenues for the private sector as creating a channel without the provision of survival conditions is offensive to the development of the Moroccan media, with the confirmation we support launching private channels.
AT: What is your comment on the figures stating that 60 percent of Moroccans do not watch local channels?
MK: I would explain that 40 percent of Moroccans follow only local channels but that does not mean that the other 60 percent do not watch these channels at all. This number must be scrutinized, as the numbers "Maroc metrie" stated an average of about 40 percent, while numbers refer that 85 percent of Moroccans watch local channels in different times and for different periods which means that a significant proportion of Moroccans watch channels, even for a short period, and this number is very important for us, but we hope to raise the rate of Moroccans who watch their channels.
AT: National drama is another main issue for discussion and debate, what are your plans to promote it?
MK: Moroccan drama is fine. I remember now a new TV show, under the supervision of the national company, which called “al-Gharib" - (The stranger). We always ask ourselves why there is not in Morocco a historical fantasy show with creative script and new theme and we found the answer in “The stranger” which is recently broadcasted on Channel 1. This show can be marketable all over the Arab world, and able to defend Moroccan production, and transforms us from the process of consumption to the process of production and export as well.
AT: Are you satisfied with the space of political talk shows in Moroccan television?
MK: I admit that there is a substantial shortage of political talk shows, but we are studying new projects and programmes.It is not an easy job, to the extent that the TV presenters of talk shows of French TV are still the same from twenty years ago, so I think we must set secondary political programs that can pave the way for our channel to receive this type of shows.