Yemeni-French Media Cooperation [Archives:1998/08/Law & Diplomacy]

February 23 1998

Mr. Pierre Duc is the Regional Audio-Visual Attache at the French Embassy in Amman, Jordan. He is responsible for all countries in the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine. This is his third visit to Yemen. The first and second visits were in December, 1995, and January, 1996.
This interview was conducted in French by Dr. Salah Haddash, Yemen Times Managing Editor.

Q: What is the purpose of your visit?
A: I came to visit Aden because we have provided some technical assistance and equipment. Cooperation between the France and Aden TV existed a long time before Yemeni unification. I also met a number of media persons in Sanaa. The second channel of Aden TV was provided with $100,000 worth of equipment in order to improve its technical performance. We are also preparing for a week of comedy cinema in Yemen. The films will mainly be French ones shot in Arab countries. Unfortunately, there are no French feature films shot in Yemen, they are mainly TV documentaries. It is important to show French films because Americans films are mainly dominant in this region.

Q: What other activities does your department do?
A: Our tasks also include organizing seminars on various media fields such as journalism. We also invite journalists and other media persons to attend short courses in France or in the regional countries under our supervision. That is what we are planning to do with Sabaa News Agency.
We mainly concentrate on cooperating in presenting news in French on Arab TVs and radio stations as well as encouraging the Francophone press. For example, this is what we are planning to do with Yemen times in the near future.
We also aim to enhance relation between ‘Agence France Presse’ and its counterparts in the region. Francophonie is presently increasing in this region. This consolidates the historical ties between France and the Middle East. Fortunately, this enhancement of relations is done by the governments of the region.
The TV5 satellite channel is a Francophone channel, which is the joint effort of France, Switzerland, Belgium. TV stations in the region can take programs from this channel and re-broadcast them without paying.

Q: What sort of difficulties do you face sometimes in your work?
A: The main difficulty is that we deal with the whole region as one entity, whereas each country wants to deal individually with us. Countries in the region sometimes refuse to exchange French cultural works amongst themselves. When we organize a regional seminar, some countries might refuse the attendance of others due to political reasons.

Q: Which place does Yemen occupy in your level of priorities?
A: There are no priorities as such. What is important of us is that there is demand to cooperate in the various media fields. We do this in coordination with the French Embassy in Sanaa.

Q: How do you evaluate the private sector involvement in the media of this region?
A: Private sector involvement is very great. A lot of money is allocated for media activities, especially in the TV and radio sectors. I notice the emergence of a new TV channel every few months such as the new Jazeera channel.

Q: Do you work with the private or public sector?
A: Normally, we deal with the public sector, particularly in the TV and radio sectors. The private sector does not often ask us for assistance probably because they have their own ample financial resources. However, part of my tasks is to get to know the private sector activities and how they work.

Q: How did you find the reaction of Yemeni media officials?
A: I felt that Yemeni media officials have a great desire to participate in the Francophonie programs in Yemen, make educational programs, and broadcast French programs. We aim to consolidate the cooperation between Yemen and France. There is no doubt that Francophonie has a good future in Yemen. Considering the increasing number of satellite dishes on Yemeni roof tops, Francophonie has a big chance of gaining ground in this country.