In Transition: Jordan’s Media Between Freedom and Regulation

Media System of Jordan

Seminar Paper, 2010

13 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Media Sector
2.1 Print
2.2 Broadcast News
2.3 Online/Telecommunication
2.4 Jordanian Journalists and their profession

3. Freedom of the Press and Media Regulation

4. Conclusion

5. Sources

1. Introduction

Jordan is a Middle Eastern Arab country bordered with Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and Israel and the Westbank in the West. The country’s capital is Amman. The population is around 6.4 million people in July 2010.[1] The political system has influence on the media system and it is

“the context of the relevant country that determines the shape and content of media policy, not the level of protection a particular state’s constitution […], or the country’s degree of technological development towards an information economy”.[2]

Therefore it has to be pointed out that Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with representative government. Political parties are allowed since 1992. The King is Abdullah II. He has extensive powers, because he appoints government, approves legislation and is able to dissolve the parliament. The economy has been growing over the last years but is still dependent on aid. With an illiteracy rate of 8.9 %, Jordan belongs to one of the more progressive and educated countries in the MENA region.

With the inauguration of the King Abdullah II. some observers expected that the kingdom strengthens its political liberalization and deepens its democratic path. But after the dissolution of parliament and the postponement of reelections, the reality described in a Konrad-Adenauer foundation country report is rather sobering.[3] However, the Jordan’s self-image is shaped by “cosmopolitanism” and offensive represented closeness to the western civilization[4] and the regime is generally considered as on of the “softest” in the Arab World.[5]

Jordan is – in reference to a categorization by Rugh – a “transitional system”.[6] That means that the press system has changed significantly during the 1990s. A “transitional” system is a rather complex system because on the one hand there are governmental controls on the media system, but on the other hand there are elements that provide some measure of freedom of expression and diversity.[7] The system itself is subject in the political arena and remains under debate.[8] The largest-circulation print media are controlled by the government and the government uses a variety of means to restrict media. But these restrictions are based on existing law and follow procedures in courts. What it means for the media to operate “within the ‘law’” will be explored in this article. In the second chapter, the media sectors will be described. After that the media regulation and its effect on press freedom will be examined (chapter three) and converge in a conclusion (chapter four).

2. Media Sector

2.1 Print

Print Media has a rather short history in Jordan. The capital Amman had only two low-circulation weeklies prior to 1948. In the following time, daily and other newspapers were established and nowadays rather vibrant.[9] There are seven daily newspapers:

- Al-Ra’i (“the opinion”), founded in 1971, is majority-owned by the government (63 %) and the biggest circulation with 100,000.
- Ad-Dustour (“constitution”), founded 1967, is partly-owned by the government (30 %) and has around 80,000 copies. Wolfsfeld summaries that Ad-Dustour is a newspaper with a good opinion section and is more analytical than Al-Ra’i.[10]
- Al Arab Al Yawm (“the arabic day”) founded in 1997, has around 24,000 copies.[11]
- Al-Ghad (“tomorrow”), launched 2004, was Jordan’s first independent and privately owned newspapers. According to the Jordan Mediaguide 2010 the newspaper has 35,000 subscribers and a total circulation of 65,000.[12] Al-Ghad is written by a young educated audience in mind and covers controversial issues of education, gender, the government policies and some sensitive foreign policy matters.[13] Al-Ghad has recently become one of the most popular publications in the country.
- Al-Anbat is a new independent newspaper.
- Al-Diyar is an former weekly newspapers that since April 2004 became an independent daily newspaper.
- Jordan Times is a newspapers published in English and was founded in 1976 and is “widely seen as in agreement with the government”.[14]

In Jordan there are more than 20 weekly magazines on the market, mainly with a lifestyle focus. Al Wasseet is Jordanian weekly publication classified as an advertisement publication with 200,000 copies. An interesting example of monthly magazines is “Living Well”, with 15,000 copies an successful magazine for women. On the cover in June 2010 is the Hollywood actress Amanda Seyfried and the magazine writes, that she “is one of those starlets who you want to get to know better”. But the magazine covers about more controversial issues, too, as the following headlines show: “Choosing your partner is a luxury Middle Eastern women do not have”, or in August 2010: “As the gap between rich and poor grows wider, destitute people are increasingly selling their most valuable property: themselves.”[15]

2.2 Broadcast News

More than half of the households in Jordan have satellite dishes and 97.2 % a television set. Many Jordanians get their TV news from pan-Arab-satellite networks, for example Al-Jazeera.

The governmental-controlled Jordan Television, launched in 1968, has there channels: JTV 1 is the main channel, JTV 2 is the sport channel and JTV 3 is a movie channel.

Young people consume television 4 to 5 hours per day.[16] Jordan Television serves – in reference to Freedom House – mostly as a mouthpiece for the government, but others stated that it’s not misused as a ideological instrument.[17] Since 2003, the official end of government’s monopoly on domestic TV and radio has been reached. At cost of 20 million Jordanian Dinars, the currency of Jordan, which is about 20 Million Euro, ATV was founded in June 2007.[18] ATV is Jordan’s first independent television network[19] and the inception of new radio stations is expanding, too.

There are more than 25 radio stations in Jordan[20] from whom one station is a “notable exception in the arab world”, namely Radio al Balad, that started with the name in 2008.[21] This station got started by making use of law loophole. It started broadcasting on the internet and is seen positively because it “demonstrates how the Internet and the use of open-source software have enhanced possibilities for community radio development”.[22] The Center for International Media Assistance gives an example of the positive effect of

“After a program airing the quotidian concerns of taxi drivers, […] revealed the latter lacked insurance, the government introduced laws to remedy the situation. The station was also a pioneer in providing live broadcast of Jordan’s parliamentary sessions.”[23]

It costs US $ 60,000 to get a license by the government[24]. Others are out there, but lack the money to put their plan to action.[25] The price of licenses with political coverage is double the price of licenses with non-political coverage and even the local media is not able to pay this amount of money, as Krzysiek has remarked.[26] This shows that despite King Abdullah’s declarations that ‘the sky is the limit’ for Jordanian media freedom, “the government still keeps financial restraints on media that broadcast on political issues“.[27]

2.3 Online/Telecommunication

In Jordan you have easy access to international news websites. Around 30 % of Jordanians currently use the Internet, wrote the Jordan Times in 2010 based on the Jordanian Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. Others estimate shares from 18 % (Freedom House 2009) to 24.5 %.[28]

There are initiatives to increase the number of computers in the Kingdom, for example the government began selling Jordanian college students subsidized laptops to surf the web at the capital’s growing number of wireless hotspots.[29] The aim is that 50 % of the population have internet access by the end of 2011.


[1] CIA (ed): The World Factbook: (accessed 2010-08-09; 12.51).

[2] Armijo, Enrique: Building Open Societies: Freedom of the Press in Jordan and Rwanda. In: International Journal of Communications Law & Policy. Vol. 13, 2009, 27.

[3] Beck, Martin: Jordanien auf Abwegen? Amman, 2010, 1. (accessed 2010-08-09; 11:50).

[4] Ibid. 3.

[5] Jones, Adam: The Press In Transition. A Comparative Study of Nicaragua, South Africa, Jordan and Russia. Vancouver, 1999, 276.

[6] Rugh, William A.: Arab Cultures and Newspapers. In: Martin, Shanoon/Copeland, David (ed): The Function of Newspapers in Society: A Global Perspective. Westport, 2003, 25.

[7] Rugh, William A.: Arab Mass Media: Newspapers, Radio, and Television in Arab Politics. Westport, 2004, 121.

[8] Ibid. 130.

[9] cf. Rugh 2003, 27/Armijo 2009, 34.

[10] Wolfsfeld, Gadi/Alimi, Eitan/Kailani, Wasfi: News Media and Peace Building in Asymmetrical Conflicts: The Flow of News between Jordan and Israel. In: Political Studies. Vol. 56, 2008, 382.

[11] The Olof Palme International Center (ed.): A Comparative Study on the Media Situation in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Marocco, Syria and Tunisia. Stockholm, 2005, 54.

[12] Jordan Mediaguide 2010: (accessed 2010-08-09; 13:06).

[13] Martin, Justin: News Consumption and Political Socialization among Young, Urban Jordanians. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009, 14. (accessed 2010-05-21; 13:26).

[14] Armijo 2009, 34.

[15] (accessed 2010-08-12; 12:40).

[16] The Olof Palme International Center 2005, 84.

[17] Rugh 2004, 194.

[18] More information about the difficulties starting the programme see: Krzysiek, Paul: Testing Legal Boundaries within Arab Media Hubs: Reporting, Law and Politics in Three Media Cities. In: Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. Vol. 6, 2009, 81.

[19] Martin 2009, 20.

[20] European Journalism Centre (ed): Media Landscape Jordan: (accessed 2010-08-10; 16:42). The European Journalism Centre (EJC) is in their own words “an independent, international, non-profit institute dedicated to the highest standards in journalism, primarily through the further training of journalists and media professionals”.

[21] Horan, Deborah: Shifting Sands: The Impact of Satellite TV on Media in the Arab World. A Report of the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA). Washington, 2010, 22.

[22] Center for International Media Assistance (ed.): Community Radio: Its Impact and Challenges to its Development. Working Group Report. Washington, 2007, 18.

[23] Ibid. 17.

[24] Ibid. The government’s administration denies licenses of all publications (not just broadcasting licenses) if sufficient financial backing could be not raised, which is no small obstacle for a poor country as Jordan; see Jones 1999, 296.

[25] Martin 2009, 24.

[26] Krzysiek 2009, 80.

[27] Ibid.

[28] OpenNet Initiative (ed.): Internet Filtering in Jordan 2009, 2. (accessed 2010-08-11; 13:56).

[29] cf. Martin 2009, 23.

Excerpt out of 13 pages


In Transition: Jordan’s Media Between Freedom and Regulation
Media System of Jordan
TU Dortmund  (Journalistik)
International Media Systems
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Jordanien, Mediensystem international, Media systems, arab world, arab country, media regulation, Medienkontrolle, Zensur
Quote paper
Tobias Fülbeck (Author), 2010, In Transition: Jordan’s Media Between Freedom and Regulation , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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