‘Aware of challenges facing media organisations’

MUSCAT: Establishment of a government commercial press in Dhofar Governorate to print local newspapers is economically not feasible after holding discussions with decision-makers from various media houses in the Sultanate as digital media and electronic copies of the newspapers are available easily. Instead, the Ministry of Information has coordinated with Oman Air and the military aviation to ensure early availability of newspapers in Dhofar Governorate. This was stated by Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour al Hasani, Minister of Information, during the Majlis Ash’shura session held under the chairmanship of Shaikh Khalid bin Hilal al Maawali, Chairman of Majlis Ash’shura.
Dr Al Hasani was hosted by the Majlis on the second day.
The minister received various questions from the members regarding some points made in his Sunday’s statement, many of which were related to Public Authority for Radio and TV, the executive arm of Ministry of Information.
Answering a question on how to protect Oman’s history being distorted by some people, the minister said the issue of preserving Oman’s history is a responsibility that should be shared by all members of the society and the ministry is ready to highlight any attempts made by a competent authority.
The Ministry of Information has discussed the financial situation of journalists with the Omani Journalists’ Association (OJA).
“We are aware of the challenges facing the media organisations during the current period.”
One of the members raised a question about the use of a smart media city, while the legislative infrastructure required for such an entity is missing.
The minister’s answer was that the Media Law is currently under review, affirming that the media city requires a legislative infrastructure.
Answering a question on the role of the Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising (OEPPA) in the enhancing Omani identity, he said that OEPPA is keen on covering events which take place in all the governorates, especially border areas according to its capacities.
The statement covered key areas including traditional media, the new media, training of national cadre, the media policy, external media, media attachés, private investments in media and the role of the ministry in supporting civil society organisations.
The members congratulated the Public Authority for Radio and TV for winning awards.
Dr Al Hasani said that a seminar on ‘media and future’ in coordination with the Supreme Council for Planning will be organised next month. The seminar will shed light on the status of the Omani media.
The members continued their inquiries which focused on the importance of having a written and clear strategy for the Omani media, a law on new media and a smart media city.
They also called for activating the media training centre established by the Royal Decree No 3/2018 as it plays an important role in enhancing media skills.
The session witnessed discussions on the importance of enhancing and standardising the Omani national identity.
They requested organising media awareness programmes that highlight Omani identity and heritage.
They also requested benefiting from the media professionals in enhancing the historic heritage and national identity. In this regard, the minister said that the ‘Omani identity’ is one of the general principles on which the Omani media relies.
The members also proposed setting up of tourism channel to promote tourist attractions in the Sultanate.
The minister said that media industry is very expensive, and that “we need to focus on priorities at this stage.”
The members also called for preparing cartoon films and programmes in light of the current changes and globalisation.
The members called for raising awareness of economic issues among the members of the society through media and urged for reconsidering the status of economic media to ensure that it keeps pace with modern changes.
They highlighted the need to shed light on attracting foreign investments, promoting the Sultanate as a tourist hub and spreading entrepreneurship culture.
One of Majlis members praised Economic Vision programme and stressed the need to handle the current situation with more in-depth analysis. Other members also stressed the importance of maintaining accuracy in spreading news and that the scoop should not prejudice the media credibility. The minister affirmed that scoop may not prejudice credibility as credibility is the main characteristic of the official source of news.
They spoke of providing suitable space for social phenomena that are affected by social networks. They urged the Ministry of Information to supervise e-media as well.
The members questioned the deterioration of Oman News Agency’s performance, in light of the content of the statement. They pointed out that Oman News Agency building needs renovation and that the agency suffers from lack of qualified cadre and poor resources.
The minister pointed out that there is an integrated plan to develop Oman News Agency, which is the official source for news in the Sultanate.
On Sunday Dr Al Hasani covered seven themes namely the Omani media in terms of vision, aims, implementation mechanisms, challenges and aspirations.
The second theme the new media covered the efforts done by the Ministry of information in addressing the new media guided by the principles and values of the Omani society.
The third theme highlighted the training and rehabilitation of national cadres (the Ministry’s programmes and efforts to training and rehabilitating the Omani media cadres and improve their skills and performance.
The fourth theme covered the Omani media policy – the role of Oman News Agency and Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising in implementing the media policy.
The fifth theme on the media attachés covered the role played by them in conveying the Sultanate’s media message to the world.
The sixth theme highlighted the private investments in media (the Ministry’s programmes and mechanisms to encourage private investment in media).
The seventh and last theme focused on the role of the Ministry in supporting civil society organisations. The theme reviewed the efforts made by the Ministry to support the efforts of the relevant civil society organisations.

The Minister of Information pointed out that since the beginning of the blessed Renaissance, the Omani media has and is still making great efforts to illuminate citizens, educate them and convey the facts about the ongoing local, regional and international events.

The statement pointed out that as per the approval of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Information formed a committee under the chairmanship of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information and the membership of media experts and law professors from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) to revise the media law. The committee has submitted a draft media law that takes into consideration the e-publishing and the changes in the media fields.

The statement added that the Ministry has implemented a number of key projects and initiatives the most important of which are completing the e-transformation project through launching a media portal that will be a reliable source of accurate information about the Sultanate. The multi-lingual portal will be launched in the coming months with the number of languages to reach 10 in 2022.
He also highlighted the media presence in the different social media means using the accounts of the Ministry and Oman News Agency. He touched on the support provided to the other media organisations in coordination with the public communication centre.

The Sultanate witnesses many important events that have become the headlines for many local, GCC, Arab, regional and international newspapers, as well as social networks, he added.

The Minister of Information also touched on the efforts by the media attachés to convey the Sultanate’s media message to the world countries, as well as their role in the countries where they are.

He pointed out that the Ministry in coordination with a number of public and private organisations considers a proposal to build a smart media city that can be an incubator for art production, film-making, public relations and advertising, as well as printing press and publishing houses. The smart media city can also play a role in attracting international specialised companies to share experiences with them.

The statement affirmed that the Ministry attaches great care to the private media organisations in the Sultanate and considers the private media complimentary and supportive to the public media. The Ministry is making efforts to ensure that the media outputs and materials by these organisations are of high quality, focus on the highlighting development efforts and discuss the various issues of interest to Omani society. — ONA