Morocco’s Media Watchdog Defends Freedom of Creativity, Ramadan Sitcom


Spread the love

Rabat – The Association of Young Lawyers in Morocco filed a complaint against Moroccan TV broadcaster SNRT for broadcasting a Ramadan TV show, “Kahwa Nes Nes,” that they say is an offense to their profession.

The lawyers argued the sitcom included several scenes that harm the reputation of the legal profession. Such scenes include Badiaa Senhaji, the show’s main actress, publicly wearing her court suit in a cafe, begging clients for her services, and sometimes giving consultations in the cafe in addition to distributing professional cards.

In its letter to Morocco’s High Authority of Audiovisual Communication (HACA), the lawyers association requested that it “urgently intervene to stop broadcasting the sitcom.” The letter described the sitcom as “an offense to the legal profession by presenting stereotypes that are far from professional ethics and due respect for the attorney court dress.”

The association found the broadcasting of the Ramadan show in “a Moroccan television channel as contradictory to the serious and responsible artistic works.”

HACA’s response

In response to the lawyers’ complaint, the HACA issued a statement in which it rejected the lawyers’ case.

The HACA said that it regularly receives complaints issued by individuals, associations, or organizations protesting against scenes and dialogues they deem insulting and harmful for the reputation of their professions. 

After HACA members met on April 27 to examine and study several complaints, the body issued a set of clarification points regarding the lawyers’ case against the sitcom..

According to the HACA, the sitcom is in line with Morocco’s regulations on audiovisual communication. Fictional works cannot be achieved without the freedom to write scenarios, to diagnose situations and stances, the definition of roles, and the representation of characters, argued the HACA.

The audiovisual watchdog also explained that the representation of a specific profession in an audiovisual artwork does not constitute defamation or an offense. Under Moroccan law, artists are free in their adoption of certain artistic choices, it said.

The lawyers’ protest against the fictionalization of their profession constitutes a violation of the freedom of creativity and disregards the media responsibility in practicing social criticism and dealing with some reprehensible behaviors and phenomena, the HACA found.

In response to the complaints that it should implement censorship against some fictional works or intervene to stop their broadcast, the HACA said that the law guarantees public and private radio, as well as TV channels, the freedom to broadcast their programs. 

Its role, it stressed, is not to censure but to ensure that the programs respect basic human rights. This includes ensuring that the programs do not: harm human dignity; inciting terrorism, hatred, or violence; discriminate against women or harm their dignity; or expose children and teenagers to harmful content that would put their physical, mental health at risk. 

Actors dismayed at lawyers’ complaint

The complaint caught the attention of the Moroccan Union of Dramatic Arts, with actors and directors expressing their discontent with the lawyers association. They welcomed the HACA’s verdict, arguing that the lawyers’ complaint goes against the freedom of creativity in drama shows.

In a statement, the union condemned the action of the lawyers association and said the move aimed to restrict their freedom of creativity.

They explained, however, that negative sitcom or movie characters are never meant to generalize certain negative behaviors to an entire profession or social group. Characters are not necessarily reflective of a group’s identity; they are just dramatic personalities imagined by the creator and sometimes found in society, the union said.