State of the media
Jordanian private media feel they face an unfair competition from media funded with “oil money” from the neighboring Arab states. Even if the media market would be completely liberalized in Jordan, it would be hard for Jordanian investors to compete with media outlets from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, which are allowed to operate with losses, because they are published for political reason and not to make a profit.
The three largest dailies are Al-Ra’i (100,000), Ad-Dustour (80,000) and Al Arab Al Yawn (24.000). The weekly newspapers are the most liberalized media and some are party-based and some independent. There are about 20 weeklies. The biggest one is Al-Shihan with 25,000 copies. Local press in Jordan is almost non-existing.
The Jordanian Press Foundation, which is 56% owned by the governmental Social Security Fund, publishes Al Rai and The Jordan Times. Both papers support the government, although the Jordan Times has a more independent profile. Dustour is owned by the Sherif family and has close ties to the government. Al Arab al Yawm, which started as an independent newspaper, is now also considered as pro-governmental. The existing Jordanian daily newspapers were challenged in 2004 by the launching of the independent and liberal daily Al-Ghad.
Radio and TV are dominated by the Jordan Radio & Television Corporation. Jordan TV has three channels, of which the third channel is a public-privately held channel. There are 3 national radio stations, broadcasting on AM and FM. The Corporation has been restructured in 2001 in order to decrease the outstanding debt of the institution. In 2007 the first independent broadcaster went on air, the Jordan United TV Broadcasting Company.
40% of the Jordanian viewers watch foreign channels such as Al Jazeera and MBC.
Two private music oriented FM stations, MOOD FM and Play 99.6 started to broadcast during 2004. In March 2005 three new FM licenses was signed to broadcast AmmanNet, Mazaj and Sawt Al Gahd.
Internet services were first available in Jordan from the mid 1990s. During the last 10 years the market has witnessed a great development. This has contributed to an increase in the number of Internet users from 127,000 in 2000 to 630,000 in 2004 a total of 11,7 users per 100 citizens In 1997, the Public Institution for Wireless Communications was turned into a state owned company. Currently many companies provide Internet connection services.
According to Jordan’s Telecommunications Regulatory Committee Jordanians have assess to Internet mostly through Internet cafes and the workplace. The average charge for 20 hours connection in 2004 was 21 euros. There are many, both daily and weekly, newspapers that are running online versions.
Jordan’s government has presented its vision of information and communications in a General Policy Document that was ratified by the cabinet on 4 September 2003. In this document the government pledged to implement a number of initiatives towards digital participation, and stated that it is determined to remove every obstacle to the implementation of its policy. The main objective of the government is to make Jordan attractive for investors especially in the field of information technology. To achieve this objective, Jordan has taken a number of measures such as the establishment of the Communication Organizing Authority (COA) in 1995. Subsequently, Communication Law No. 8 was passed in 2002 a view to improve the regulatory framework.
Although there is no comprehensive legislation on the Internet use in Jordan , the State is trying to establish innovative regulations to organize the use of the Internet. Internet users in Jordan enjoy a greater state of freedom than in most other Arab countries, though the situation is far from perfect. The government officially claims that there is no censorship or banning of sites' content or on the diverse electronic communications of news, e-mails or any form of internet use. Instead, the police, the intelligence services and the General Prosecutor continue to repress freedom of expression. All internet service providers in Jordan have to pass through the governmental network in order to connect to the internet which means they may be exposed to censorship by governmental bodies at any time.
There is one news agency, Jordan News Agency, Formerly a state-run organization, it is now private..
Journalists in Jordan are obliged to be members of the Jordan Press Association (JPA). The JPA supports the anti-normalization campaign of the professional associations and prohibits its members from having (other than official) contacts with Israel and Israeli’s. It also has the right to take disciplinary actions against its members. In 2000 the JPA expelled its own secretary general, Nidal Mansour, for starting an independent organization called the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists.
The Press and Publication Law 1998 and its amendments by Royal Decree, 1999 and 2001, provide the legal framework for the media in Jordan. In the 2001 decree and its article 150 the Penal Code was expanded to certain content restrictions, including vaguely defined offences such as harming reputation of the state, national unity, the prestige and integrity. Defamation of the King or Royal Family can lead to imprisonment up to three years. It also increased punishment for violations to imprisonment up to six month and fines up to 5,000 JOD (about 5,500 EUR).
Article 17 gives the cabinet authority to approve licenses for publications and the government decision is final. To obtain a license for a new publication applicant must apply to the Department of Press and Publication. Article 13 states the capital requirements for newspapers. Article 50 gives the judiciary possibilities to close down publications based on matters related to public interest or national security.
A law enacted during 2000 provides possibility of privately owned media. The Audiovisual Commission established in 2003 reviews license applications in the broadcasting sector.
Media developments and trends
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