The executive member of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists, Thamer Zoghlami, vows that the Tunisian media will return to its pre-revolution state.
In an exclusive interview with Arabstoday, Thamer Zoghlami described the media in Tunisia as "going through a state of high tension, action and reaction between the governing authority and the relevant bodies representing the media sector." He was emphatic that a legal framework, which was approved last November and designed to regulate the media sector, must be put in place.
Zoghlami believes that existing tensions are mainly due to the attitude of the government towards the media in "this volatile period in our country's history" adding that the sector "has a lot of negatives but the government's responsibility is to reform the sector through actual cooperation with the professional institutions which represent the media."
In reference to the decision by the high commission of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists' media and communications reform, to boycott the consultation organised by the government concerning the legal framework for the sector, Zoghlami said it was more effective to postpone the consultation, believing that it would be unable to succeed in what he described as "an atmosphere of haste and tension."
He considered that the government, which involves a number of former regime figures, has made a number of mistakes. "The government should have asked for professional help to organise this consultation so that the recommendations and conclusions that emerge from it will be successful and can be activated in the future".
The executive member stressed that political parties should not concern themselves with orchestrating the role of the National Union of Journalists in this transitional period. He also wanted to clarify that the NUJ is interested in social and trade union affairs as well as political affairs related to the freedom of speech and press, but was keen to make it clear that the NUJ is not "politicised," "This is not true" he said, "freedom of expression is a requirement for all and is the main concern of the union".
The union member believes that the media will return to its pre-revolution state saying: "There should be no regression in Tunisia concerning two things - the media and political freedom."
Speaking about the impact of recent prosecutions filed by the Tunisian judiciary against a number of media professionals, he appealed to the media to confront anyone "who tries to tame it" and to the authorities to "enact laws governing this sector and ensure the protection of journalists."
In response to what he described as a campaign launched by some newspapers to "discredit the union" including opponents in the government, Zoghlami was quick to spring to the defense of his union saying this was "unacceptable" and that "journalists must assume their responsibilities" as the newspapers which are discrediting opponents of the government, he said, "have failed the revolution."
"Journalists should assume their responsibilities and stand against all practices that violate the ethics of the profession" he added.
Summing up the situation of the media in Tunisia, Zoghlami emphasised that in his opinion, a public media is the only guarantee for media balance in the country, to enable citizens to express their opinion, "regardless of his or her intellectual and political directions." This transitional period needs a balanced media which is only possible through a public media, so the demands to privatise the media, are completely misguided, he concluded
The union is expected to release its annual report on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which will include a description of the Tunisian media and its landscape during the last year, as well as detailing the violations which have been registered against the media since the revolution.