BAHRAIN


"Individual's freedom quality, justice and equal opportunity and core principles of society. the state shoulders the responsibility on ensuring them for all citizens on an equal footing. This is based on a broader principle, namely, that people are equal insofar as human digits is concerned, a principle that has been consecrated by Islam since fourteen centuries".- Bahrain national action chart. (Al-Fadel 2009, p 53-54)

"Every citizen will have the right to express his opinion, verbally or in writing, or by any over mode of expression of an opinion or innovation. In accordance to this principle, there will be freedom of scientific research, freedom to publish, journalistic freedom and freedom to print as laid down by the law." - Bahrain draft national action chart. (Alwathekah, cited in Al-Fadel 2009, p 55)




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INTRODUCTION

Bahrain is a small island archipelago located next to Saudi Arabia in the Gulf of Bahrain. Ranked as on of the most densely populated nations in the world, it houses 33 islands with the capital being Manama. It is accessible from Saudi Arabia by a causeway and is a constitutional monarchy governed by King Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Bahrain's population is close to 1.3 million people with the predominant religion being Islam and 99.8% of citizens being Muslim. Despite being a former protectorate of the United Kingdom, Bahrain declared independence in 1971, after withdrawal of the British and was recognised as a kingdom as of 2002. In 2000, women and non-muslims were appointed to the Consultative Council by the Emir Council.

The country holds a high rank Human Development Index, calculated by overall quality of life and overall state economic income resulting from therir oil exports, constituting 60% of export receipts.


FIGURES

CAPITAL

Manama

POPULATION

1,214,705

ETHNIC GROUPS

63% Bahrani
19% Asian
10% Arab
8% Irani

RELIGION

98% Muslim
2% Christian/ Jewish/ Baha'i/ Hindu

GOVERNMENT

Constitutional heriditary Monarchy
Branches:
  • King- (head of state)
  • Prime Minister (head of Govt.)
  • Council of Ministers (appointed by King and Prime Minister)

ECONOMY

GDP: $29.82 billion
Natural Recourses: oil, aluminium, textiles, natural gas, fish, pearls
http://www.irex.org/system/files/MSIMENA08_Bahrain.pdf

King Of Bahrain:


Bahrain's governmental structure has been a constitutional, hereditary monarchy as of 2002, when the then "Emir" or in English "Sovereign Prince" Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa declared Bahrain an independent Kingdom and proclaimed himself as King. The Al Khalifa family has held power in Bahrain since 1783 when The Al Khalifa family, under the rule of Ahmed Bin Muhammad Al Khalifa, known as "The Great Conqueror", effectively conquered the islands of Bahrain, with the help from several Bedouin tribes and other Sunni families. Later, during the period of British colonial rule, the Al Khalifa family were kept on as figure head leaders under British rule. The Al Khalifa family are zealously outspoken members of the Sunni sect of Islam, with heavy influence in Bahrain's parliament, with roughly half of the parliamentary cabinet being comprised of family members.

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BAHRAIN MEDIA OWNERSHIP


Bahrain's Top six leading news papers:

Prior to the "Bahrain Reform Act" , the media was negatively controlled by the Bahrain government. Their aim was to avoid any embarrassing criticism from the media and to promote "social and national unity" within Bahrain (Al-Fadel 2009, p 59). When King Al- Hamad rose to power, the Bahrain Reform Act was introduced, promising reformed laws, focussing of the right to freedom of expression, as quoted above. However, today, Bahrains media outlets are "independent" privately owned companies, though they are still monitored by the 'Ministry of Culture and Information'. The MOCI are a government based organisation that have the authorisation to censor and prevent any included information they feel is a threat to the well being of the Kingdom. They have the ability to prosecute individual offenders, close down newspapers, films and other "threatening'" information.


Print media:

Bahraini print media was one of five Arab states to achieve the UNESCO minimum standard for daily newspaper circulation in 1998 as it was one of the smaller and wealthier states, populated with educated civilians with media interests. (Rugh 2004, p 3)



    • Al Ayam: Bahrains leading liberal daily Arabic paper. Owned by Nabeel Al Hamer, an advisor to King Hamad. Due to Al Hamer's relationship with the King, [[#|the paper]] serves mostly as a pro government source and supports the arts, sports and economics. According to media theorist Jehad Abudulla Al-Fadel, the paper is "classified as a general political daily newspaper" (Al-Fadel 2009, p 58)
    • http://www.alayam.com/home.aspx

    • Al-Bilad: An Arabic regional newspaper located in Jeddah. Founded in 1934, it serves as Saudi Arabia's oldest newspapers that is also accessed by the Bahrani population
    • http://www.albiladpress.com/


    • Al Waqt: A Leftist-national oriented paper that was, initially, the only independent newspaper from the bahraini government. It began in 2006, however after declining financial sustainability the paper ceased publishing in 2010. Al- Fadel states that this press media "aimed to establish a new press industry in Bahrain geared towards professionalism, seriousness and to open to all schools of thoughts and trends that represent the Bahrani society at large" (Al-Fadel 2009, p 59)
    • http://www.alwaqt.com/


    • Al-Wasat: Arguably the most popular newspaper in Bahrain. An opposition daily, viewed as the most un-biased media source as it does not hold loyalties to the Bahranian government. A survey conducted by the 'Pan- Arab Research Centre' found that Al-Wasat had the most political impact with in Bahrain and therefore was ranked as one of the influential leading newspapers for its creditability. It was at the top of the index for the Media Credibility Index in may 2012. The paper was founded by Dr. Mansoor Al- Jamiri, but was forced out of the company when the governement was under news law restrictments under the King Hamad regime in 2011.
    • http://www.alwasatnews.com/

    • Daily Tribune: Bahrains main english newspaper which was founded in 1997 by the Al Hilal Group. The paper Includes sections for International news, business news and market analysis and local news and events.

    • The Gulf Daily News: Another english newspaper owned and published by the Al Hilal Group. The group created many more news and [[#|entertainment]] soucres Magazines and the local Arabic newspapers. Al-Fadel states that the Gulf Daily "editorial policy is to adhere to the states policy to reveal the development achieved in Bahrain, to contest strange ideas and thoughts in the society and to contest public ideas" (Al-Fadel 2009, p 58)
    • http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/

References

http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/Bahrain%20draft.pdf
http://www.freedomhouse.org/issues/media-freedom
http://www.irex.org/system/files/MSIMENA08_Bahrain.pdf
http://www.alhilalgroup.net/pages/GDN.aspx
http://www.ncfpeace.org/drupal/system/files/The-Media-Credibility-Index-2012.pdf



BahrainAlayam.pngwatan_article.jpgal-wasat.jpgal-waqt-bahrain.jpgdaily tribune.jpggulf.jpg



PUBLIC BROADCASTING

BRTC ( Bahrain radio & television corporation)

The Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation was originally a state owned corporation, however it is now ruled by an independent company run by the Emir. Broadcasting in Arab and English, the agency distribues five T.V channels and eight radio stations following the news, sports, music, art and religion. They also have satellite TV programs, allowing access to international broadcasts.

In recent months the BRTC has been in enemy territory with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The BCHR are accusing the BRTC for "producing fabricated pictures, scenes and movies based on lies since the beginning of the large protests which was calling for Democracy and respect for human rights in Bahrain on 14th February" as stated by the Bahrain human rights committee.
http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/4121

During the holy month of Ramadham, one of Bahrain's leading television agencies Bahrain Television is broadcasting many programmes with religious, social and entertainment values.

Lualua TV

In recent times a new TV station, located in a London apartment, is aiming to stream news and information to residents of Bahrain called Lualua TV. The station's goal is to broadcast balanced information without bias as an independent news corporation. They aim to promote democracy and justice in Bahrain (Al-Sayegh, 2011). None of the news anchors are Bahraini, for fear of being blacklisted back in Bahrain, and all the Bahrainis that obtain footage and information for the channel remain anonymous with their identities protected. The station was established after the uprisings promoting democracy in February and March 2011, in which the Saudi Arabian government was called in to stop the thousands of protesters. (Atkinson, 2011)

Lualua TV faces current challenges as their signal has been jammed from being broadcasted in the Gulf kingdom, and has been noted to be blocked from inside Bahrain. The management team at the station did not wish to blame the country's government for being the ones to have blocked the signal, but do not know any other reason for a group which would have wanted their transmission blocked. The Bahraini Government is said to have blocked their transmission due to the station's lack of showing of state-owned shows. The webpage that was established by Lualua TV has also been blocked in Bahrain after only a week of being online. (Atkinson, 2011)

To get around the blockage of transmission, the station has established an iPhone and iPad application in which users can access the daily actualities. However, it is not being widely used by Bahraini's. Due to the lack of funding, and the inability to receive revenue, the station is struggling to survive as a business.


BAHRAIN'S CURRENT MEDIA STATE

2011 was a turning year for Bahraini media, as after the protests in the early months there were many restrictions placed on journalists and the press. Due to these restrictions, Bahrain fell 29 points in the Press Freedom Index created by Reporters Without Borders, and is currently ranked in the bottom ten countries of the world. Many of the journalists who have aimed to get around these restrictions have found themselves arrested (and some are speculated to have been tortured), they still collaborate with doctors, lawyers and human rights activists in order to broadcast information to the public. (Al-Wadi, 2012)

A recommendation to 'relax censorship and allow the opposition greater access to public broadcasts, radio broadcasts and print media' by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry has been ignored by the Bahrain government. It has also been noted by the BICI that the media broadcasted was heavily influenced by the government. (Al-Wadi, 2012) Due to these restrictions, a network named the United Kingdom Bahrain Press Association was formed to try and get Bahrain back to a free press state.

The government maintains it's control and monopoly over all media outlets. Newspapers however, are privately owned, and it is easier for them to release information that they want to, as they have less governmental control than the regulated television broadcast services. Journalists who publish information deemed detrimental and disrespectful to the government, will be punished. (Boheji, 2008)

Bahrain media outlets have even restricted some of the television shows they broadcast in order to be in keeping with regulations, and also to avoid causing conflict with authorities. Reasons for this include the withdrawal of government advertising on their channel, thus making it more difficult for them to survive as a business. The government has the right to withdraw their funding from any media source that they deem to be unsuitable, which usually involves said media source broadcasting information that goes against the government.


Media Regulation in Bahrain:



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Overview:

The Information Affairs Authority of Bahrain (http://www.iaa.bh/ ) is the government department that deals with the regulation of a broad range of media within Bahrain. These include all of the independently owned television stations mentioned above, as well as radio stations across the island country. All independent media outlets wishing to publish books or magazines, broadcast television, speak on the radio or advertise in any format within Bahrain must apply for a media production/ broadcasting licence that makes all content subject the (IAA) Rules and regulations, as extrapolated upon in the link below:

http://www.iaa.bh/policiesPressrules.aspx

The Information Affairs Authority was only recently formed, having been created at the Decree of Bahrain’s current ruling monarch, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on the 26th July 2010, replacing its predecessor “The Ministry of Culture and Information”. The department effectively acts as a government media/ information regulation body.

Leadership Structure:

The head of The Information Affairs Authority holds the title of president, as well as a ministerial position within Bahrain’s parliament, as a member of cabinet. The President of the authority is appointed directly by the king of Bahrain, and is able to stay in the position for an indefinite period of office, effectively as it please the king.

Recent Controversy:

Controversy was sparked surrounding Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority and its handling of the Feb/ March Uprisings of 2011, sparked by hope from the Arab spring in Tunisia and Egypt, hundreds of thousands of citizen took to the streets. However, the uprising was unsuccessful as government control measures were swift and often brutal, as witnessed in a number of youtube videos posted in the country:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4t1h7OQt2I – Al Jazeera News Report

The Authority was also accused of complete censorship of a number of radio and television broadcasters who were deemed by the king and his government to be “inflammatory” during the uprising. The Authority also denied foreign media any access to Bahrain to cover the events as they unfolded. Consequentially The Information Affairs Authority have adopted the policy that social media is a dangerous medium that must be monitored and controlled, due to the deemed “irresponsible” use of social media during the uprising s to organise antigovernment rallies and acts of civil disobedience. This has sparked controversy with foreign media outlets as well as many people within Bahrain. A policy of control over social media is deemed ambitious by many and totalitarian by others:

http://gulfnews.com/opinions/editorials/bahrain-shouldn-t-pass-new-laws-to-regulate-social-media-1.1040382 - Gulf News editorial piece- Matthew Duffy, June 26th 2012.

However it must be noted that The Information Affairs Authority is quick to defend it’s actions during the uprising Stating that they had been portrayed as gross over generalizations made by foreign media and disobedient inflammatory domestic media groups, as well as social media users. Their official statement can be found below on the following link:
http://www.iaa.bh/Responsedetails.aspx?id=25IAA Official Statement March 2011
Under government press laws made in 1965, it is required that all newspapers need to be licenced by the Ministry of Information. Published content is regulated by the same ministry, as are laws on prohibition that are "deemed offensive to the reputation of the ruling family or harmful to national security." (Mongabay.com, 1993)



Emerging Trends:


A shift toward a democratically functioning society has seen a greater want for press freedom and information. A site known as the Media Monitors Network (MMN) now covers Bahrain among many other nations, allowing the public to freely access political and social issues of concern to them. Its slogan "where truth prevails" largely emphasizes the overall goals and ethics of the site.
http://www.mediamonitors.net

The Bahraini government's control of the media is generally quite relaxed on the whole, however censorship and banning continues to occur in issues that house offensive content, lies and questionable information. However, public desire for press freedom and expression is seeing a need for legislative reform. Web citizens are also contributing to the flow and dissemination of information media, allowing individuals to take action on matters that concern them.

However, in Bahrain, media censorship is still relatively tight and this sees to a worldwide movement by the Commitee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to call for the release of activists and freedom upholders and encourage demonstrations of safe and "peaceful expression."(CPJ 2012)
http://cpj.org/mideast/bahrain/

external image freedom_of_speech.jpg
(Is Bahrain restricting the basic human right of expression?)


Press Freedom Results from annual report by 'Freedom of the Press' measuring the level of media restriction and regulation:
Years
2011
Press Status
Not Free
Press Freedom Score
72
Regional Rank
12
Legal Environment
25
Political Environment
27
Economical Environment
20
Scores are on a 0 to 100 scale, 0 being best.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_rankings_of_Bahrain

After protests in 2011, restrictions imposed on journalists have proved Bahrain's claims for freedom of expression are fictional and it is currently one of twelve countries listed as an "Enemy of the Internet." (Reporters Without Borders, 2012)

Among some of the clearest trends in Bahraini media is the absence of independent voices in traditional broadcast media outlets. However, this is countered by the rising trend in networked media which though is heavily censored, can still be navigated. Since 2002, Bahrain's only independent newspaper 'Al Wa-sat' has pushed for press freedom however heavy government pressure has lowered its ceiling of coverage. Thus it is unable to cover issues of political corruption and neutralization, (the accusation that the
government fast-tracks citizenship applications of Sunni foreigners to change the country’s demographic makeup - Nada al Wadi, 2012) costing a large number of the market readership.

References:





  • Information Affairs Authority, 2012, Press Rules & Regulations - Information, viewed 12/08/2012 <http://www.iaa.bh/>





  • CPJ Committee to Protect Journalists, 2012, 'Bahrain - Committee to Protect Journalists', viewed Tuesday 14th August 2012 <http://cpj.org/mideast/bahrain/>

  • Bahrain Center for Human Rights, 2011, 'Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation is responsible for Bahrain TV turnover as a sectarian provocation platform' Bahrain Center for Human Rights viewed Tuesday 7 August 2012 <http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/4121>

  • Rugh, W.A 2004, Arab information media: function and structure, Arab mass media:newspapers, radio and television in Arab politics. Pragear: Westport, USA p 1-7Alwathekah 2001. National Action Charter. Issue No. 39-29th. January 2001.

  • Bahrain Historical Documents Center Al-Fadel, J 2009, The role and impact of the press in bahrain in the process of democratisation: special reference to the discourse of pre to post reforms in Bahrain newspapers (1996- 2006). University of Bedford shire. p 7-60.