The Tunisian Journalist is living in difficult times, still recovering from years of oppression by the former tyrannical ruling power. As for reform, a competent body has been assigned to draft new laws and provide pespective for the "post-revolutionary media".
In an interview with 'Arabdstoday', Kamel Laabidi, head of the National Independent Committee for Media and Communication Reform talks about the reality of his field a year on from the revolution and the attitude towards the laissez-faire manner of the government in appointing media leaders.
The interview was as follows:
AT: Firstly, is there a successful revolution without succeeding in establishing free media?
KL: A revolution never succeeds without free media, and the success of establishing democracy and free media requires further cooperation between journalists, since the challenges are great, especially because the autocratic regime still has aid from the remaining state institutions.
AT: Late assignments carried out by the government for the head of public media institutions aroused resentment in the media, so what is the attitude of the institution towards that?
KL: We expressed our opinion in an official statement, stressing that taking such decisions opposes democracy, and the promises of the Prime Minister to commit to international standards in the field.
AT: You had two meetings with the president and the prime minister regarding this issue, did you find any response from the prime minister who is responsible for these assignments?
KL: The prime minister understood that journalists have the right to choose their Editors-in-chief and we reached an agreement for finding solutions for the media sector.
AT: How do you evaluate the Tunisian media scene?
KL: The press freedom level has largely broadened in Tunisia, since the issuance of the first Arabic newspaper in 1860.
AT: To what extent do media advance according to the hopes of the nation?
KL: Life is not that easy, it and full of hardship which should be erased. The reform process requires new legislations to regulate the sector.
AT: The committee for Media and Communication Reform provided several proposals to the new government regarding media reform. So, what is the most prominent proposal of these?
KL: We can not issue a recommendation, in such a short time, especially since the committee was keen on listening to journalists and visiting public media institutions. In addition to that, we allocated organisation meetings for the audiovisual sector.
AT: To what extent does the task of reforming the media sector seem difficult?
KL: This is the start of recommendations and the report, which will be ready after a few weeks, will highlight the reality of the sector and will provide further recommendations. However, there are new legal provisions that have not entered into force and we are wondering when the Special Act will be activated regarding administrative documents. The second decree concerns freedom of the press, printing and publishing and a third provision is to do with freedom of Audiovisual Communication. That's in addition to an amended structure called " the High Authority for Audio-visual Communication".
AT: What are the urgent requirements of the National Independent Committee for Media and Communication Reform?
KL: What we demand at the present time is expedient issuance of the applied provisions of these decrees and the High Authority for Audio-visual Communication which will protect the sector. In addition we demand the assured independence of media institutions.
AT: Is the Reform committee close to issuing its final report?
KL: It will end by issuing its final report regarding media through the coming weeks and it hopes these recommendations not to be just on paper but to be applied as well.