Street smart communication technologies (blogs, podcasts and vlogs) are creating new opportunities to engage youth in participative and pluralistic media in Morocco. Using tools readily available to them, this project will engage young Moroccans in producing multimedia content for the Internet. Based out of Tanmia’s community Internet access centers and using innovative low cost hardware donated by the US Corporation GENESI and Sun Microsystems, the ultimate objective of this project will be to create a community based media platform that will play host to audio and audio visual programming with a Moroccan identity, that uses Moroccan Arabic (and other local languages such as Amazigh dialects), and that is designed with production values that appeal to Moroccan young people.
Project Justification and Background Traditional mass media, radio and television, in Morocco have been extremely limited and state controlled for decades. There are two main television channels and a handful of radio stations. In May 2006, one new private television channel and ten new radio stations were created under the provisions of the 2004 law (no 93) overseeing the liberalization of the audio visual sector in Morocco. While these recent results should be welcomed as a sign of modernization of the sector, the total absence of civil society actors (NGOs and associations) and community run media is a sign of continued resistance to more complete freedom of expression. However, internal and external pressures to modernize the traditional state owned media companies are growing. Any effort to enlarge the engage civil society actors in community media could contribute to a real and historical reform whose positive effects would easily extend to neighboring countries in the region. Such reform is a process that started at least a decade ago, when satellite television has made access to international media possible for a significant part of the population: in Morocco, there are today 2.5 million satellite dishes across the country, which corresponds to nearly one dish to every two or three families. Most Moroccans get their news and information from the big players of Arabic speaking segment: Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and Abu Dhabi TV. Internet access is exploding in Morocco. Not only is the sector growing at one of the highest rates of the region, but also the vast majority of users (estimated 90%) are accessing the Internet using broadband connections (ADSL). In 2005, Morocco counted almost 4 million of regular Internet users. Cyber cafes, numbering between 1,500 and 3,000 across the country, can be found even in remoter,
more rural parts of the country. Moroccan youth flock to the Internet despite the expense of 5 to 10 dirhams per hour. The Internet content consumed by youth and others is predominately generated and hosted outside Morocco – 95% of Moroccan Internet traffic is international. If expanded access to satellite television and Internet exposes Moroccans to the benefits of potentially alternative content, it also relegates them to the passive role of “content-consumers” in the globalizing market of information. With few exceptions, authentically Moroccan voices are largely absent in all forms of mass media. Darija (colloquial Moroccan Arabic) is the de facto language of most of Morocco, the language in which most young people think and speak outside the classroom, among friends, on the street, or at home. This sense of conflicting -- rather than complementary – language identification is blatant in each evening's TV broadcasting in Morocco, as a worker, witness, or passerby either expresses themselves in a rich colloquial discourse or struggles to remember enough Modern Standard Arabic grammar to speak a few sentences, only to be trumped by the interviewer's facile overlay of Modern Standard Arabic. International media, although undoubtedly appealing to many of the younger...