The Tunisian media landscape has changed dramatically since the fall of Ben Ali regime in January 2011. New media outlets continue to be created in the aftermath of the Tunisian revolution. The new satellite channel claims it will be politically neutral and will strive to serve the Tunisian Revolution in developments in the field of culture, society, investment and tourism.
In late February, Al Janoubia’s founders Rabii Baaboura and Farhat Jouini announced the launch of the new TV channel and declared their objectives to the public. They described the channel as representing the people “South of the Mediterranean,” Al Janoubia will focus on the socio-cultural lifestyle in Tunisia and hopes to reach Tunisians living abroad in Europe as well. “No TV channel in Tunisia cared about that Tunisian community before,” he said.
Baaboura said that the channel’s particular interest in Tunisians of the diaspora and those originating from the south of Tunisia as their name suggests (Al Janoubia: the Southerner in Arabic), stems from the feeling that “the latter have long been marginalized by the former regime, and we need to reach out to them.” With a team of around 30 young presenters, Al Janoubia aims to reach out to this segment of the Tunisian population.
However, the channel has been struggling to attain recognition at the official level in Tunisia since it presented documentation to the Tunisian authorities so it could begin broadcasting in Tunisia in March 2011. Their application was rejected, which forced its founders to broadcast from Europe. “We however met with the media officer of the Ministry of Interior and the Tunisian Presidency consultant on February 20th. They are positive about our application,” he said.
INRIC is the High Committee for Media and Communication Reform, an independent official body charged with reforming media in post-revolution Tunisia.
An employee from INRIC, who declined to be named, stated that there are norms and criteria that need to be met in order to be granted a permit to broadcast in Tunisia and that Al Janoubia TV had failed to meet the necessary criteria.
On November, 2nd, 2011, two law-decrees 115-116 related to the creation of the High Independent Commission of Audio-Visual Communication (HAICA) was enacted by INRIC and are concerned with media (print and broadcast).
However, since that day, “there is no commission to control the establishment of TV channels,” the anonymous INRIC employee stressed. This commission manages the audio-visual landscape in post-revolution Tunisia. “Anyone who establishes a TV channel or any media outlet may be subject to the law decree although there is no clear law that is implementable,” they explained.
Arbi Chouikha, a media expert and member of INRIC said that al Janoubia TV is like the Al Jazeera Satellite Channel, which never had a license to broadcast in Tunisia and were banned from opening an office in Tunisia. “Nothing can prevent a TV channel from broadcasting from abroad,” he added. Chouikha blames the government for the slow pace in enforcing the law-decree.
INRIC gives recommendations to approve the establishment of new TV channels. In September 2011, it gave recommendations to around five new TV channels: TWT, El Hiwar Ettounsi TV, Ulyss TV, Golden TV and Khomsa TV. “These TV stations got the permission of other organizations to broadcast in Tunisia, such as the National Office of Broadcasting and the National Agency of Frequencies,” the INRIC official stressed.
Al Janoubia has opened offices in Lyon (France), Geneva (Switzerland), Tunis and Zarzis (Tunisia) and have correspondents throughout Tunisia.