More media choice promised by Jordan’s new Al Mamlaka TV channel
AMMAN - Following Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya TV and other pan-Arab television stations, Jordan is to operate its first 24/7 TV satellite channel with a promise broad-based news coverage and in-depth analysis.
Al Mamlaka (“the kingdom”) television, with a budget of $28 million and some 300 employees, launched officially in July despite criticism over its high cost in a country facing huge economic challenges.
The channel will replace government plans to open a channel affiliated with the Jordan Radio and Television Corporation.
“The new channel will carry a heavy focus on local news, in addition to regional and international coverage and will create a closer bond with Jordanian citizens by providing a forum for all voices to be heard,” said Al Mamlaka CEO Dana Suyyagh.
“The channel will be geared to the local audience first and foremost but also the Arab and global audiences who want to know more about what is happening in Jordan.”
She added: “It is a news channel with a strong newsgathering team of dedicated journalists and that is what sets it apart from existing channels in the kingdom that provide a variety of programmes with little focus on news.
“It will broadcast news 24/7 with a special focus on political, economic, sport and cultural news and the issues Jordanians care about. In addition, there will be talk shows and reality programming that centre on the transfer of knowledge and experience.”
Suyyagh said that, although it is state-funded, Al Mamlaka is administratively independent.
“Being a public service broadcaster, Al Mamlaka TV has built numerous partnerships with media institutions in Jordan, including Jordan Radio and Television Corporation and Jordan’s News Agency (Petra),” she said. “We expect also to cooperate with other TV channels and media institutions. The channel will operate according to the Jordanian laws and regulations.”
With a large contingent of journalists and experienced staff, the channel is expected to make a difference but many say that, for a news channel to be a success, it needs a greater margin of freedom.
Al Mamlaka said its mandate includes fostering Jordanian production and journalistic talents in addition to attracting Jordanian professionals from abroad.
“We need a news channel that will make a big difference and speak openly about many aspects of life in the kingdom and this can be done if there is more freedom to cover and send the correct messages to the citizens who would wake up on its news and go to bed hearing the latest news,” said Ayman Khateeb, a journalist with Al Ghad newspaper.
“So far we believe that the newcomer might have a solid approach to the art of covering local news but we have to wait and see… from what we saw so far I think there is a place for a new channel in Jordan like Al Mamlaka.”
Al Mamlaka will join other channels, led by Jordan Radio and Television Corporation (JRTV), the state broadcaster that was formed in 1985 from the merger of Jordan Radio and Television, the private Ro’ya TV, which was launched in 2011 to establish a quality media platform with modern content that lives up to the expectations of Arab audience in the 21st century, and the controversial online stream television JOSAT, famous for its talk shows, in addition to several non-active channels.
A 2017 report by the Jordan Media Commission, which oversees licensing and regulating the media sector, said Jordan has 49 TV channels, 42 radio channels, nine dailies, 11 weeklies, one annual newspaper and 187 news websites licensed under the Press and Publications Law, in addition to 300 websites registered as specialised platforms.
As the first 24-hour news channel in Jordan, with five fully equipped bureaus in governorates across the country as well as a network of reporters in different capitals of the world, Al Mamlaka TV is set to play a major role in shaping the Jordanian media scene, Suyyagh said.
AlBaladnews.net, a news website in Jordan, was critical of the time it took for the channel to begin broadcasting and the amount of money spent on salaries and preparations. “How will a normal citizen benefit from delaying the opening of another channel?” AlBaladnews.net asked.
Al Mamlaka TV will broadcast on: Nilesat H (HD) 11958 (SD) 12304 H, Arabsat (HD) 12054 V and OSN 454.