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Call to confront media challenges

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Call to confront media challenges

Manama: Bahrain’s Minister of State for Media Affairs has called for hastening the development of a clear and strategic vision to organise the media and to put specific standards and regulations for the use of social networking.

“It is important to take advantage of the international efforts that seek to regulate the electronic media in order to reduce the pressure exerted on the countries in the region under the pretext of freedom of opinion and expression, and which is being misused to blackmail and impose specific views,” Sameera Bin Rajab said.

“The media have become the new major tools that are used as part of the so-called soft power aimed at bringing about political and geostrategic changes at the regional and international levels,” she said as she addressed the meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) information ministers in Kuwait on Wednesday.

Several countries have now become better aware of the role of the media and of the need to modernize national laws and legislation to keep them abreast with professional standards and technological developments, she added.

“We urge the Arab and Gulf media to intensify their efforts to highlight the fallacies and misinformation that aim to reinforce and overgeneralize the negative image of the Arab and Gulf nationals. We do hope that this issue be given the top priority through the media strategy,” she said.

However, the minister said that it was “highly significant” to ensure that the regional media should not deviate from the international standards and conventions in regulating the media.

“We must be careful as we confront the attempts to politicize rights issues and the misuse of the media to target the countries in the region. There is a need to regulate the freedom of opinion and expression through independent bodies in line with most international experiences in this area. There is also a need for the separation between the organization of professional media and the social networks in order to guarantee individual freedoms that are regulated by more comprehensive and more general policies and legislations,” she said.

In her speech, the minister stressed that the media are no longer the traditional tools used to merely convey news and information.

“The media have today become the new essential tools to prepare to fight battles of various kinds. The freedom of opinion and expression has now become a central issue through which countries are attacked and extorted,” she said. “This situation forces us today to wonder how other countries dealt with the issue of freedom of opinion and the mechanisms they used to organize its practice through the media and social networking,” she said.

The minister said that studies and research have indicated that the issue of freedom of expression is now being used among the top standards and criteria to evaluate countries and assess them.

“The issue is also being used in any international negotiations or consultations. Most Western countries are so careful with this topic and invariably make they have a bright image and a robust credibility, whereas most of their practices indicate otherwise. It is very important for us to work together to improve the image of the Gulf societies in the Western media,” she said.

The minister said that even though Bahrain would next month hold its fourth consecutive quadrennial elections, it is being targeted by a media war led by regional parties.

“It is highly deplorable that Bahrain’s pioneering initiative to consolidate political openness and reinforce democracy is under attack from some media. This calls us to confront this war and to protect the Bahraini experience. Gulf and Arab media are urged to pay special attention to this situation,” she said.

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