Nov 25 2007

Outgoing Jordan cabinet rejects Zarqa Community radio license

Published by at 9:35 pm under Jordan,Uncategorized

The government rejected a petition to grant a local radio license for the third biggest city of Jordan, Zarqa.  In one of its last decision the outgoing Jordanian cabinet rejected the application by AmmanNet to set up a community radio station that will not broadcast news or politics.

This is the first known case in which a radio license has been rejected in Jordan since the deregulation of airwaves allowing for private ownership.

No explanation was included in the November 13th decision of the outgoing Bakhit cabinet which rejected the request based on clause 18.b of the Jordanian audio visual law. That clause states “The Council of Ministers may refuse to grant broadcasting licenses to any entity without stating the reasons for such rejection.”

Daoud Kuttab founder and director of AmmanNet called  the decision an indirect punishment to the people of Zarqa. “With so many radio licenses in the capital, we expected the Jordanian government to support rather than reject a radio license that will offer public broadcasting to community services-deprived Zarqa. “ Kuttab says that an advisory board made up of community leaders was assembled, a studio space was rented in downtown Zarqa and equipment for the station was ordered. “At a time that Jordan is encouraging independent community-based media, this unexplained decision surprised us, “ he said.

 Kuttab called on the newly  appointed prime minister  to reverse the decision. He also called on the newly elected parliament to revise the Audio Visual Law in a way to make the distribution of radio frequencies a more transparent affair. AmmanNet’s  founder also called on the Higher Media Council to act quickly to ensure the respect of the audio visual regulatory process.

AmmanNet said that all the technical requirement for the station were assembled to the satisfaction of the relevant Jordanian regulators. The station reaffirmed its commitment to the people of Zarqa and called on the government to explain why the cabinet chose to reject our request, so that it can correct them.

Last November AMARC, the Montreal based- Federation of community radio stations. held its global conference in Amman under the patronage of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit. Speaking on behalf of the prime minister, the government spokesman Naser Judeh praised the work of AmmanNet and welcomed the international community to support community radio in Jordan. Ammannet’s  founder Daoud Kuttab was subsequently elected as vice president of the international board representing the MENA region.

Part of the funding for the Zarqa station would have come from the Jordan Media Strengthening Project of the Washington-based International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) with funding from USAID. 


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