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Sameera Rajab

Bahrain media revamp sees strong results

Manama, May 13, 2014

A reform strategy mapped out by Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA) has proved successful in portraying the real image of Bahrain in the international mass media, said a top government official.

The revamp has also led to an increase in job opportunities from 970 to 2,043, Minister of State for Information Affairs and government's official spokeswoman Sameera Rajab was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Executive jobs rose from 65 to 502 while specialised ones went up from 46 to 208.

Rajab was speaking at a ceremony organised by the IAA to mark the diamond jubilee of the national Press. The event was held at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa.

"The change in attitude testifies to the successful plan mapped out by the ministry, which yielded positive results over a span of one year from March 2013," said Rajab.

The strategy also led to creation of special departments for 10 TV channels and 10 radio stations, as well as a production directorate and a general directorate for foreign communication to convey the real image of Bahrain to the world.

A special directorate to keep abreast of technological media developments and place Bahrain on the international electronic media map has also been set up, Rajab said.

However, she said, there has been a race against time to reform the sector by working out for the first time a five-year strategy which was discussed with officials from the IAA and endorsed by the Cabinet.

It contains 46 initiatives aimed at upgrading the media sector and projecting Bahrain's real image worldwide.

"As part of the reform process, a new media draft law was also completed in a record time,” Rajab said.

The minister pointed out the creation of the government's official spokesperson's office to boost communication with local and international media, the establishment of the High Authority for Information and Communication, IAA Media Training Centre and a Media and Communication Academy in co-operation with the private sector.

"The media in Bahrain has developed a great deal in the last 20 years and we have achieved a lot and the problems we are facing, or that threaten this progress, are due to a general lack of understanding of what a free Press means," said Akhbar Al Khaleej editor-in-chief Anwar Abdulrahman.

"If people want a free Press, like we see in the rest of the world, then they should unshackle themselves from unacceptable traditions.

"For example, if someone is arrested for doing something wrong, they should not get angry if a newspaper names him and his family. It is the family member in question that has brought disgrace to the family, not the newspaper by naming him."

"We have progressed with regards to freedom of the Press in Bahrain, but the more freedom we have the more freedom we want, just like the rich want to become richer," said Abdulrahman.

He also said that ministers should not use the Press as a marketing vehicle for themselves. "Sending their pictures to the newspapers every day is not a good example," he said.

"How can readers possibly benefit from this?"

A media forum, themed "Mass media and communication ... between freedom limit and social responsibility" was held on the sidelines of the event.

Abdulrahman was joined by IAA president Ali Al Rumaihi, London-based Al Arab editor in-chief Abdulaziz Al Khamis, Moroccan High Communication Authority member Mohammed Abdulrahim and Omani journalist Mohammed Saif Al Rahbi in addressing the forum, which was moderated by BTV journalist Saed Al Zuweeri. Intellectual and cultural figures were present.

A book celebrating the march of the national Press was released on the occasion.

Bahrain Press: History and Dedication is the brainchild of Bahraini researcher Sager bin Abdulla Al Ma'awda. "Bahrain produced the first newspaper in the Arabian Gulf and this is a big achievement," he told the GDN.

Al Rumaihi praised the history of Bahraini Press and highlighted its track record of freedom of expression and opinion. He stressed the advances made under Royal reforms such as increasing the number of daily newspapers issued from four in 1999 to 12 daily and weekly newspapers in Arabic and English, in addition to dozens of magazines.

He also emphasised the importance of a media based on commitment to responsibility and avoiding incitement of sectarianism, hatred and violence. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: IAA | TV channels | Information Affairs |

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