"Anyone who doesn't take part in the changes will disappear from the scene." This was the message of Salah Eddine Maaoui, the Director General of the ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union) at the DW Global Media Forum.
This is why Maaoui urged transforming existing state broadcasters into public ones. "Media reflect the societies in which they operate. That's why we need a thorough reform of the broadcasters that belong to the ASBU. Germany and Deutsche Welle are models for us," Maaoui said on Tuesday in Bonn. Maaoui, who is Tunisian, has headed the broadcasting organization for Arab countries since 2007.
He considers Tunisia to be the country among those involved in the Arab Spring that has made the most progress in transforming the media scene. DW played a part in this, Maaoui said, adding: "Deutsche Welle enjoys an excellent reputation in my country." Maaoui continued to say that the DW Akademie provided ideal support for elevating professional media standards in Tunisia.
"A long-term task"
This deep-rooted transformation that includes the way journalists view themselves as professionals in formerly totalitarian states "is a long-term task, whose scope and significance we cannot yet fully assess." The broadcasters that belong to the ASBU are also aware of this. "The view is still widely held that the state is justified in influencing the media because the state gives them their money," Maaoui said.
Professionalism is important for all media, and there is no difference between state and private media in that respect. Maaoui noted that the ASBU now includes many private broadcasters as members. State broadcasters now make up only about 20 percent of the total in the Arab world. According to the latest figures, there are "altogether more than 950 TV stations."
The DW Akademie's central focus
DW is a long-standing partner and associate member of the ASBU. At Maaoui's invitation, DW Director General Erik Bettermann was the guest speaker at the most recent general assembly of the ASBU in Tunis last December. Media development in the Arab world is a central focus of the DW Akademie, which has its own office in Tunis as a contact point for partners in the region.