Reporters Without Borders hails President Moncef Marzouki's long-overdue announcement on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, of the composition of the nine-member Independent Broadcasting Authority (HAICA). Nouri Lejmi, a teacher at the Institute for Press and Information Sciences (IPSI), is to be its president.
"We can only welcome this announcement, which has been awaited for the past year and a half," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "The installation of this self-regulatory body is the first concrete step in the overhaul of the Tunisian media envisaged by Decree-Law 116-2011.
"We expressed our concern about the repeated postponement of the creation of this body during a meeting with President Marzouki last January, so this announcement is a big relief."
The HAICA will face many challenges, as major structural reforms are needed. All the laws governing the Tunisian media need to be revised. The challenges include:
Sorting out the situation of the new radio and TV stations, which are broadcasting illegally. Establishing terms of reference for commercial and community radio and TV stations so that licences can be properly issued. Appointing persons to run the state-owned media and revising the appointments already made by the coalition government since January 2012.
The HAICA will also have to decree rules for the media to follow during the upcoming elections, to ensure that the public receives freely-reported, transparent, diverse and independent coverage.
It is also important that the HAICA should intercede with the government in order to find solutions to the various problems faced by media created in the wake of the Ben Ali dictatorship's overthrow in January 2011.
"This new regulatory authority is the fruit of a struggle by Tunisia's journalists, alongside whom Reporters Without Borders has been fighting for years," Deloire added. "Our organization can offer the HAICA its expertise and analyses in order to help ensure the emergence of free and independent media in Tunisia."