Jordan is known for its political stability, which distinguishes it from its neighbouring countries. But media professionals censor themselves and respect the implicit red lines around certain subjects.
Jordan’s media are not very independent and many television channels such as Al-Mamlaka are semi-governmental. Privately owned Roya TV is nonetheless a major broadcaster. Jordan also has state, private and community radio stations, as well as independent media platforms such as 7iber and Aramam.
The authorities control certain media outlets by appointing their editors (including those of Jordan TV, the Petra News Agency and the Al-Dustour and Al-Rai newspapers) and by controlling their finances. Some media are controlled by the armed forces or by city authorities, and this gives them certain privileges such as the ability to cover a particular part of the country with greater facility.
Ever since the media law’s revision in 2012, the authorities have stepped up their control, especially over the internet, where hundreds of sites have been blocked. Under the 2015 cybercrime law, certain website and social media posts are punishable by prison terms. Journalists are often prosecuted and even convicted under an extremely vaguely worded terrorism law.
The authorities can prosecute journalists and force them to pay heavy fines, while the Broadcasting Commission charges broadcast media outlets exorbitant amounts for their licences. Privately owned media outlets, especially those not controlled by the authorities, struggle to survive due to a lack of financial resources. Some choose not to criticise private sector companies and public figures in order to obtain funding.
The Jordanian population is made up of diverse community groups such as Palestinians, Christians, Druze, Circassians and Armenians, but this pluralism is poorly represented in the media. Journalists find it difficult to tackle some subjects, especially those related to women.
Journalists are subject to close surveillance by the intelligence agencies and are required to join the state-controlled Jordanian Press Association. They are subjected to additional pressure in the form of frequent interrogations, after which they are released on the condition they not reveal details of investigations relating to sensitive subjects.