The 9th Plenary Assembly of the Mediterranean Network of Regulatory Authorities was held on the invitation of the Haute Autorité de la communication audiovisuelle of Morocco, in Marrakech on 29-30 November 2007, under the presidency of Mr Josep Carbonell, president of the Consell de l’Audiovisual de Catalunya (CAC).

Twelve out of the fifteen members of the network were present. The Second Authority for Television and Radio and the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting of Israel along with the Telecommunications Market Commission of Spain did not attend the 9th  Network meeting.

The meeting at Marrakech examined the participation of some countries and organizations either as observatory countries with the potential to eventually join the Network for some of them, or as authorities already linked to the network through programs or projects of cooperation and partnership.

The representatives of the Palestinian Authority, the Radio and Television Union of Egypt, the Audiovisual Commission of Jordan, the National Audiovisual Council of Lebanon, the Higher Council of Communication of Tunisia, the Press and Audiovisual High Authority of Mauritania and the Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia-Herzegovina participated in the debates, along with the representatives from the Council of Europe (Media and Information Society Division), the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA), the European Audiovisual Observatory, the African Communicators Regulatory Authorities Network (ACRAN) and the Network of the French-speaking Regulators of Media (REFRAM – established in July 2007), all under the attribute of guests.

Two regulatory authorities of Southern Mediterranean countries, the Press and Audiovisual High Authority of Mauritania and the Audiovisual Commission of Jordan, have joined the network. Also, the candidacy of the Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia-Herzegovina was also accepted. Therefore, the Mediterranean Network of Regulatory Authorities consists of 18 members, representing 15 Mediterranean countries.

Referring to the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the network, President Carbonell underlined, at his opening speech, the work and the efforts that have been made during these ten years in order to create a common space for debate and reflection. In the future the network looks forward to contributing to the achievement of the following goals through closer cooperation of the Mediterranean countries: intercultural dialogue, efforts for the establishment of peace in the region, interreligious dialogue, equality and the protection of human rights, development of a space of good neighborhood in a human dimension.

During the first three sessions, the participants exchanged opinions and experiences concerning the audiovisual regulation: ethics, protection of minors, self-regulation, convergence and political pluralism in the audiovisual media.

Continuing the work of the 7th meeting in Paris in 2005, the network, during its 4th  session, discussed a reference document that will become a joint declaration, concerning the content regulation, presented by the HACA and the CSA.

The first part of the draft declaration concerns the respect for fundamental values, principles and rights, such as the respect of human dignity and otherness and the protection of law, order and public health. The second part refers to the protection of minors (children and adolescents), particularly the protection against violence and sexual contents, but also the protection of their freedom of opinion. The third part deals with honesty of information and respect of the pluralism of views. The fourth part is about the cooperation and common regulatory mechanisms. Regarding the specific case of channels broadcasting via satellite, members of the network committed to transparency and mutual information, based on the jurisdiction rules that bind them.  They shall inform the other members of the network regarding any sanction or, when other severe measure based on the principles of the present declaration is pronounced concerning a satellite channel broadcasting from a country or region or received by a country or region, whose regulatory authority is a member of the network.

The draft declaration concerning the regulation of content constitutes a body of principles which the Mediterranean regulatory authorities committed to sensitize the broadcasters. All network members will examine the draft declaration, prepare suggestions or comments that will be discussed during the next network’s meeting in Italy, where its final text will be approved and adopted.

President Ghazali recalled the necessity of an increased cooperation within the MNRA, wishing to see the Network becoming, after ten years of existence, an exchange instrument more significant and more structured.

Following the recommendations of the technical meeting in Granada, which took place on 19-20 July 2007 and prepared the 9th  meeting of the network, the Mediterranean regulatory authorities decided to form a technical commission within the network.

The technical commission will meet once a year. The role and the mission of the technical commission are the following: the implementation of the decisions that have been adopted by the plenary meetings of the Network, the preparation of the agenda of the next plenary meeting of the Network, the organization of technical seminars on issues such as the protection of minors, violence in the media, cultural pluralism. The Joint Declaration and the Founding Chapter of the Network will be modified accordingly.

At the closing ceremony, the presidency of the Network has been given to Mr Ahmed Ghazali, President of the Haute Autorité de la communication audiovisuelle of Morocco and the vice-presidency to Mr Corrado Calabro, President of the Italian authority, l’Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazione.

The next annual Meeting of the Network will take place in Italy, during 2008, on the invitation of the Italian regulatory authority (AGCOM), which will take the presidency in 2008. The Consejo Audiovisual de Andalucia will then take the vice-presidency and host the 11th  meeting of the Network in Andalusia in the year 2009.