Can the public find out who owns the media through free access to the essential information required?
It is completely impossible to find out who owns the media – or any other company – in Morocco. The Moroccan media market is very limited because of the lack of freedom of speech, a lack of political pluralism and the high rate of illiteracy.
Print media are covered by the Press and Publishing Code which does not require disclosure of the basic data required to ascertain ownership, such as those with indirect control or a significant interest. Beneficial ownership is not an issue as brokerage does not yet exist in Morocco. Any information disclosed is not available to the public in any case. In practice around 90% of the Moroccan dailies are owned by political parties, and the remaining 10% by companies or individuals close to the government. All of them are effectively and ultimately in support of those in power, with no opposition media existing in Morocco.
Broadcast media are covered by the Audiovisual Communications Act which also does not require disclosure of the basic data required to identify ownership such as those with indirect control or a significant interest.
Information disclosed on ownership of broadcast media is available on the website of the media authority but this information is not easy to understand. Information on licence applications should be published in the Official Journal of Morocco but in practice this does not happen. Information can be requested from the administration under the Freedom of information law but there are a lot of bureaucratic obstacles and access depends of the discretion of the administration. Often the only way to access the information is through corruption.
Broadcast media and cable services must be registered as a limited liability company but there are no legal provisions requiring private companies to disclose ownership information. Print media are not necessarily limited liability companies and may be subject to no regulation at all.
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