New private radio stations after Ramadan
DOHA: Qatar will begin issuing licences for private radio stations to operate after the new media law is brought into force after Ramadan, a senior official involved with the licensing process said.
The licensing authority will be the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage which will be responsible for implementing the new media law and monitoring the media.
Qatar Media Foundation (QMF) and ictQATAR, the telecom regulatory authority, will together provide the frequency bands required by the radio stations to broadcast their services, QMF’s CEO, Mubarak Al Kuwari, said.
He told Al Sharq on Monday that the job of the QMF will be to coordinate with the culture ministry, ictQATAR and the licensee radio stations.
Contacted for comment, famous Qatari columnist Abdullah Al Atbah said since the present era is dominated by TV channels and the internet, not many people pay attention to radio.
“Already we have enough number of local radio stations that broadcast their services in Arabic,” said Al Atbah, implying that the decision to grant licenses to private radio stations wasn’t a great idea.
Asked if radio stations broadcasting in different languages to cater to expatriate communities would likely have an adverse impact on Qatari culture and traditions, Al Atbah said he didn’t think so.
“We are living in an open global society…and I don’t know what exactly the plans of the government are,” he said.
Asked if he thought it was a belated move on Qatar’s part to allow private radio stations to operate since Dubai has such broadcasters for a long time, Al Atbah said: “Our situation is different. The media in Qatar are still evolving.”
And to a question whether private radio stations should be allowed to broadcast both news and entertainment programmes or restrict only to entertainment, the columnist said since people have access to social media and a plethora of news sources there is no harm in permitting them to broadcast both news and entertainment programmes.
Observers of the media scene in Qatar say that the country should have sufficient infrastructure in place if private radio stations are to be given licences to operate.
According to these observers, signals of some of the existingradio stations are so weak that listeners often find it hard to access them in remote areas within the country.
So if private radio stations are to operate, it should be made sure that their signals are strong enough. For being private they need to be commercially viable, do business and compete with radio stations in neighbouring countries.
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