Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Banning “Unhealthy” News?

Did you see this in today’s Arab Times? My friends, pay attention! This would erode any claim to freedom of the press as guaranteed by the Kuwait Constitution.

Islamist MPs planning bill to shackle Kuwait media; ‘Set up watchdog’
KUWAIT CITY: Islamist MPs plan to submit a proposal to the National Assembly to form a Higher Media Council to keep a check on the activities of the media and prevent the publication of ‘unhealthy news reports’. According to these men, the Kuwaiti media has run out of control and it has been tackling issues which affect the national unity and threatens peace and harmony in society. MP Ali Saleh Al-Omair told the Arab Times the establishment of a media watchdog will help the mass media to avoid what he called the negativities which are being published from time to time. He indicated several observations have been made and their publication of some reports in newspapers, radio or television has not pleased many Kuwaitis.

Al-Omair added the establishment of this body became necessary after it was evident a section of the media had deviated from its objectives “by publishing misleading information which affected the national unity”. He explained freedom of the press is guaranteed but dangers and red lines exist in every society and they must be accepted particularly since this scenario exists even in civilized countries. He indicated the people of Kuwait get upset when they see what is being published by the mass media, particularly the negative news reports which affect national unity. He indicated the proposed council can include media experts, religious personalities, writers, psychologists to talk to the media from every angle to highlight how certain news reports can harm the society.

By Ben Arfaj Al-Mutairi
Special to the Arab Times

What would examples of unhealthy news be? The rising AIDS rate in Kuwait? The transmission rate from men – men vs men – women? Divorce statistics? Reduction of crime reporting, because it is just too embarrassing?

WHO makes that call? Who are the watchdogs? It give me an Orwellian shiver!

July 17, 2007 - Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, News, Political Issues, Social Issues

10 Comments »

  1. perhaps they subscribe to the “ignorance is bliss” theory and are therefore doing it for everyones well being 😀

    Comment by sknkwrkz | July 17, 2007 | Reply

  2. This is really frustrating! Until when do we have to stay “silent” or hide the “unhealthy” news? Even before this plan to ban ’em, we’ve not been reading what is really going on in Kuwait. This is just stupid!!!

    Comment by Sara Shuaibi | July 17, 2007 | Reply

  3. Big Brother is keeping an eye on us. But without that mustache eh?

    1984 can be very real.

    Comment by Я | July 18, 2007 | Reply

  4. I’m not sure what is meant by unhealthy news. But I think I can confirm that people are not worried about news about AIDS or crime reporting or divorce rates because these issues have nothing to do with national unity, they just might raise eyebrows. No one ever complains about data like that coming out. At least not that I know of. Even the Islamist folks don’t complain about such data coming out, especially stuff to do with divorce, people talk about that all the time. They even tackle it on TV.

    I think some of the readers of this site read only the English newspapers which I think are less influenced by the agendas of some writers than the Arabic newspapers are. See sometimes they actually lie and accuse someone of being unpatriotic or not fulfilling his national duties and it’s not because the writer cares about Kuwait but because a business deal didn’t go to them or whoever is bribing him/her to write this or that. I know I am very disappointed in the newspapers in general and I wish there was more self-censorship rather than a government-imposed law. I think journalism in Kuwait has shown that it can be incredibly irresponsible and doesn’t take slander as seriously as it ought to.

    Comment by 1001 Kuwaiti Nights | July 18, 2007 | Reply

  5. I just had a convo about this earlier wit my mate.. I told him I was considering freelancing in my spare time (during my yr long siesta after my 5 yr school trauma).. but.. I kept saying that the censorship in Kuwait makes me just not want to bother.. sad really..

    Comment by Kuwaiti Femme | July 18, 2007 | Reply

  6. Hey, Skunk! I think it is well meant, but badly thought out. Kinda like the no women working after 8, which is noted for the majority of exceptions. Why didn’t they just write an enforceable law concerning the billiards halls and internet cafes and prostitution? The law is too broad, and unenforceable.

    If they pass legislation equally broad, limiting the press, it can be widely interpreted, and Kuwait will no longer have the semblance, even, of a free press.

    Welcome, Sara, and thank you for commenting. Yeh, the text indicates they are seeking to reduce anything unflattering. That could include energy problems, problems with neighbors, crime stats, anything detrimental to the national image.

    R – you think he doesn’t have a moustache? 😉

    1001 – As usual, you have given the issue a lot of thought, and I appreciate your analysis. I have heard about these agendas, but yes, you are right, very little of this appears in the English Kuwait press, and only intriguing references, never clear stories. But where do you draw the line? And who draws it? Those are the questions that concern me.

    Welcome, Kuwaiti Femme. You, and the other young, educated Kuwaitis are the hope of the future. Please bother. Please.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 18, 2007 | Reply

  7. I’m sure he has one helluva long beard…Rip Van Winkle in disguise lol 😉

    Don’t forget that events in the past 2 years have led to this sudden thought of hardliners asking for censorship. Remember the political protests? The Hizbollah protests and the sudden influx of people raging in the media? Also the former Minister of Info Mr. Sanousi got the boot because he was incapable of controlling all this.

    They may implement this as law, but I assure you “has not pleased many Kuwaitis.” is nothing but a load of bull. Those mentioned may be the same people who are influencing our politics, economy and such. After all, another scandal like the PWC and the KOTC hurt the big shots. There was a full page announcement awhile back about someone from the royal family who has been sentenced in absentia for some crime. That resulted in gasps from the “many Kuwaitis” and how DARE they post such a thing?

    I’m sorry to say this, but our gov’mint is run by a bunch of hypocrites and I’ve said that in their face several times. I’m not afraid of them and nor will I ever keep quiet.

    Sorry for the rant 😛

    Comment by Я | July 18, 2007 | Reply

  8. Why am I not surprised!!!!

    Comment by kinano | July 22, 2007 | Reply

  9. The Patriot Act in my own country has taught us all, sadly, to pay attention to what is being slipped through in the name of national security.

    I just read where President Bush has appointed new people WHO DO NOT HAVE TO BE VETTED BY CONGRESS under a little provision in the Patriot Act that everyone thought was only an emergency clause. If you aren’t paying attention, rights slip away.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 22, 2007 | Reply

  10. That is rather scary. I thought the press in Kuwait was rather good when I was there 2 years ago and they did TRY to get news that mattered out but this is a very worrying development.

    And what’s wrong with moustaches? I’ve had mine for about 6 months!

    Comment by mischief | July 23, 2007 | Reply


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