A few days ago I circulated this grim mailer to my mailing list. Here's the mailer, and posted below are the reactions that came in.
Dear friends, film lovers and strangers on this ever growing list,And this is what you replied to the above grim mailer thru reply emails and facebook msgs- almost all requested anonymity, so I'm randomly listing here as msgs come in:
My mailer this time round is not about the wonderful projects & filmmakers I’m working with, nor the amazing talent and work sprouting up around me. It’s not about awards, nor screenings with standing ovations. Shocking, I know!
This time it’s about a much bigger picture, and quite a grim one I’m afraid.
Around three years ago a private broadcasting station was encouraged to emerge in Jordan, where JTV was the only national broadcaster and in a dead end rut. For years and years, the barrage of content that infiltrates people’s screens and lives here is made by someone else, delivered by someone else, reflecting someone else. To date, Jordan does not have a broadcast media that reflects us.
Anyway... a mandate was initiated at the highest levels, engaging an existing private sector media player and the best consultants money can buy. A project was born that restored our faith in the future of media in Jordan, and brought back home from the region some of the most talented Jordanians working in the broadcast space.
This new station, ATV, started to build, hire, develop, create. Every now and then we’d hear of a few hurdles, a couple of missed deadlines, but in truth nothing I ever found dire, as this is inevitable for any media start up in a developing world with no professional resources, little to benchmark against, a public sector that really doesn’t get it, skeptic spectators, and an already apathetic potential audience.
Ready to go on air, about 50 days ago, ATV’s initiation was blocked from transmission. Today they continue to be engaged in an empty rhetoric with regulators, while relevant official media entities are dead silent. The word circulating is that this private sector station is being bought out by the Jordanian government, or a bunch of non-media related investors, or an ailing broadcaster, or a combination. Internally, people are in a dim place, confused and shocked. The talk around town is all rather arcane.
BTW, this note is my POV and I do not claim to have details of the full picture. And amidst all this, I wish I had a view from other sides, but unfortunately the other sides are in ‘no comment’ mode!
It seems I live in a country were a progressive free media is paid lip service, not much more. Although I won’t give up and will always say there’s so much work to be done, and we’ll keep doing what it takes, but in truth this fiasco is just a huge blow that sets us back decades - freedom of thought and expression is up against the business of fear, amnesia and anesthesia. Tough odds!
In an attempt to share what they’ve been producing, ATV placed some programs online on ikbis.com – most content is quite good - stories that most who are watching seem to care about and issues relevant to our life today. Being the critic I am, I’ve got my observations on presentation style, packaging and form of some of the shows, but I do understand that this evolves, given the chance. But in the final analysis, it’s the content that really matters, and it seems they’ve been thinking and doing in the right direction.
Read this tell-all interview with the ATV MD.
And check out the debate going on thru the comments link under the piece.
More to read addressing the issue:
Some of my previous posts
And of course on my Facebook!
Hope has been violated and the only way to gain it back is to address what has marred it, as one of the most encouraging human constants is our inherent need for inquiry and dialog - because to know is to keep asking!
1. Its complicated. But this is something I plan on not getting involved in at all.
2. You know this issue has been disturbing me too and I read an article yesterday in the Jordan Times which was not encouraging. It was bland hardly addressing the issue, as if it was just another usual telecom/AVC glitch. But it isn’t and who is addressing this issue? It might be worth sending another email urging everyone to write a polite but pressing letter (while copying the press) to:
- Chairman of the AVC
- Minister of ICT
- Mayor of Amman
- PM Office
- HM Office
3. Spot on. How sad.
4. Unfortunately this job is for the AVC (supposed arbitration), and the collective pressure of us low level people.
5. Swing by.
6. Maybe you should come over for a chat!!
7. So if I give you my two cents is it going to be broadcasted to your mailing list?
8. My group should be posting their opinions. I'm very frustrated on what's going on in the country.
9. Are you serious?!
10. Ma fi shughul...
11. It's complicated. There's a lot people don't know.
12. It's a personal thing between a very powerful office and the owners. Leave it be.
13. He's expressed his frustration from the both of them.
14. Leave it alone.
15. Forget about it. There's nothing anyone can do.
16. Why do you care so much?
17. They are persona non grata.
18. What we can do is seek to expose the truth, and then perhaps people can be angry enough to take some action or demand an explanation from those who ought to explain!
19. I find it very intriguing how Mohammad Alayyan is not talking and leaving Mohannad Khatib to deal with the media and the government officials.
20. I wish someone would go on the record about what deals are being cut behind the scenes right now!
21. Surely, the same ‘highest level’ can override all if the intention is true, real and genuine to establish an independent private broadcasting station
22. Don't bother, it's out of anyone's hands.
23. Who cares!
24. Are you seriously expecting to find a solution or answer?!
25. You're very right. So sad what you're saying.
26. Of course they should separate State & Media.
27. Why are you surprised that people don't want to make decisions? Nobody wants to be blamed for their actions. I bet you all the real details are not revealed to those who need to make an educated decision! They only have part of the facts. But what can you do.
28. Citizen's letter on 7iber.com
29. I have never been able to keep my mouth shut when I strongly believe in something. I am a fighter and it is what I do for a living. Welcome to the world of politics. If sources say no comment, then you are playing with fire and its bigger than you think which makes it even more disappointing. I have learned the very hard way when to quit at something and it truly and honestly sucks. Alayyan is the brain child behind ATV and is one of my favorite role models and I believe he has something many of us lack. The ability to take risks and create some outstanding businesses. He, as you said, brought everyone back to Jordan to work at ATV. That in itself is an accomplishment as Jordan is suffering a huge brain drain and we are especially losing our crestices. He is someone who forever outstands you and someone who forever fights for what he believes in. I believe finding out the truth in regards to this issue will really deflate all morale we have and wonder as you said how we will ever move forward.
30. It's not your battle. Leave it.
31. If I was an ATV employee I would check my options instead of sitting, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for someone else to dictate my career. Or I would just keep chugging along and do what I do and let the big dogs worry about their power games.
32. ...I am in total agreement with every word you have here, but I am afraid that my sons will probably stay where they are, enjoying the beauty and free spirit of California!...
33. Forget it. From day one they had a silent partner investing financially who was the Jordanian government, so were they ever really private?
34. I checked the website for the ATV station, and I think it provides (would have provided) a new and distinctive tone to Arab TV.
35. it's is a farce but mohannad asked us not to speak until things got clearer and now he's out.. and everything is confusing and frustrating and depressing but many people need the jobs and are just sort of waiting to see how these new owners are.. i think soon people will be talking but i think they want to see who will be running the show...in general though people furious esp now that mohannad is gone..he was amazing!! no onewill ever come close.. as for ownership it is obvious that it is personal more than political in the sense that MA is so with the system and married to the system and loves the system that it is doubtful the general policy will change but that is yet to be seen anyway..anyway everything is still cloudy... i just like to read what others are saying bec sometimes being on the outside looking in gives much more perspective.
36. ....well, the thing is that the previous management weren't that frank with us...i mean until now we dont know what really happened...we just hear the news like everybody else in the city...u know how much i'm pissed about the whole thing...but u cant risk ur job for a cause that ur blind to...what if it was a hoax that we were part of...yeah i know it sounds like a lame conspiracy theory crap but come on "everything is possible"! land of wonders...
37. I have taken time to answer you because I was wondering what could I answer. This situation is spreading everywhere. Personnaly I have suffered so deeply through what my film went through, and I do not know how much people
realise the damage that is being done. All I can say is that you have to keep doing, and it is going to be more and
more difficult for a long time, but we cannot stop trying.