LIsie is doing it alone, disregarding Haica’s rights and the rights of journalists
Nothing is going well between the Independent High Authority for Elections (Isie) and the Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communications (Haica). Its prerogatives monopolized by Isie, Haica invoked the Administrative Court. This should settle the dispute between the two authorities over the joint directives on media coverage of the election campaign for the expected legislative elections scheduled for December 2022.
Last week, as the start of this campaign approached – which started today, Wednesday 23 November 2022 abroad – Haica issued a set of guidelines for the media without referring to Isie. As it was the regulatory body of the media sector, Nouri Lajmi’s body took the lead and decided alone the conditions for the coverage of the election campaign because Isie would have avoided it. At least that’s what we understood from Snoussi’s various statements. The member of Haica has repeatedly pointed out the lack of communication between the two authorities that hold Isie responsible.
Farouk Bouasker’s authority was quick to respond to the Haica accusations. She first responded by blaming Haica for its silence since two letters had already been sent by Isie inviting Haica to present their proposal. Then, in the wake of the publication of the Haica decision, Isie inflicted a total discord that confirmed the divorce. After taking care to condemn the approach “ unilaterally of Haica and a possible intention to sabotage the election, Isie instead decided to go it alone and published guidelines for public and private media establishments to adhere to in order to ensure the smooth running of the election campaign. to make it rain or shine.
This inquisitorial approach combined with the very content of the Isie decision further aggravated the already chaotic situation. In addition to encroaching on Haica’s privileges, Isie has drawn the ire of journalists. The National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) has also expressed its total rejection of Resolution No. 31 by Isie. SNJT described it as “reckless” and “hasty” and considered the directives to the media as another blunder in the series of serious mistakes made by the electoral body, which threatens the conduct and outcome of the election.
Indeed, ISIE has set itself up as the exclusive controller of media coverage of the election campaign. It decided, among other things, to prohibit the media from publishing the results of exit polls before their official announcement from its services, and to send the media that do not comply with its decision directly to the public prosecutor. risk of being prosecuted on the basis of the Criminal Code and Decree 54 instead of Decree 115, which regulates the sector.
So here the media – in particular private ones – are faced with an extremely difficult dilemma. Indeed, Isie requires the media to show equality between the candidates in terms of coverage of the activities of each individual’s election campaign. But since the President of the Republic has opted for a single member voting system, it becomes phantasmagoric. Isie accepted a total of 1,055 candidates – knowing that seven constituencies have no candidate while others have several – involving many logistical and technical problems. It is difficult and complicated to cover more than a thousand individual campaigns in accordance with the Isie guidelines.
Radios, television and the press also have a sword of Damocles over their heads. An entire cell has been created by Isie and will be dedicated exclusively to scrutinizing the audiovisual production in connection with the general election. The personnel assigned to this task, which Isie says are highly qualified, remain unknown to the media, and no information about the training given to them has been communicated, if there was training, while we are two days after the launch of the national election campaign. However, one thing is clear, any possible criticism of a candidate can be read by the Isie cell as an insult or an attack under the provisions of the new resolution. An example of Bouasker choosing a vague text full of generalities that will only hinder the work of the media instead of regulating and streamlining media coverage. The mission of the media itself is thus threatened and the voters’ right to information violated.