5. Leveraging the media and information ecosystem in Jordan

A robust and well-regulated media and information enabling environment is vitally important to how Jordan communicates around a variety of pertinent public policy priorities, including its response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the government’s larger public sector reform initiatives; as well as its Open Government reform agenda and the upcoming consultation process for the development of the 5th Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan (NAP). In order to assess the potential role that media as well as the larger enabling environment can play in the public policy process, it is necessary to understand: (i) key structural and contextual dimensions, including historical, political, macroeconomic, and sociocultural issues that impact public communications and the media; (ii) key laws and institutions, including de jure/de facto legal frameworks, regulations, and institutional arrangements that impact public communication and the media; as well as (iii) key stakeholder dynamics of the actors involved in the media, including their incentives, financial resources, and human resource capacities, all of which can greatly impact the role of public communications and the media.

The first part of the analysis seeks to analyse the government’s ability to effectively leverage public communications and engage with media to deliver key messages with respect to the various structural constraints that may exist. In particular, this section considers a number of structural issues that can have a binding effect on access to media and information, including: (i) geographic and infrastructure determinants, such as penetration of broadband internet, cell phone technologies, and satellite access across the territory; (ii) socio-economic determinants, including the existence of a digital divide in the population on the basis of income, gender, or age; as well as (iii) exogenous or geopolitical determinants, such as how the global COVID pandemic and conflicts in neighbouring countries can affect the production, consumption, and engagement with the media.

Over the period considered, available evidence suggests that Jordan has made notable progress in terms of access and availability of media transmitted through print, broadcast, mobile, and online channels. Based on improvements to Jordan’s ICT infrastructure, now more than 8.7 million Jordanians have access to mobile subscriptions and 9.1 million Jordanians to the internet (TRA, 2019[1]). When disaggregated between fixed and broadband internet connections, the data suggests that a majority of Jordanians access internet data through their smartphones, as has been confirmed by recent Telecommunication Development Indicators: “95.6% of all internet subscriptions were mobile broadband subscriptions at the end of 2018, with the number of fixed-line subscriptions steadily decreasing” (Ibid). These figures are confirmed by the most recent World Development Indicators, which note that 77% of Jordanians have access to mobile phones and 66% use the internet, while currently only 4.6% of Jordanians access information through fixed broadband subscriptions and 3.5% through fixed telephone subscriptions (see Figure 5.1) (World Bank, 2019[2]). Finally, access to television broadcast has likewise grown, with a satellite penetration rate reaching 90% of households providing access to regional and global news providers (UNESCO, 2015[3]).

Despite the growth of mobile and fixed broadband subscribers, geography and population distribution continues to limit access to the media and information across the territory. Based on the 2015 Jordan Population and Housing census, the overall population in Jordan consists of approximately 9.5 million individuals, of which a third are non-Jordanians. The population, however, is unevenly distributed across governorates, with 75% of all inhabitants concentrated in Amman (4 million), Irbid (1.77 million) and Zarqa (1.36 million) respectively (The Kingdom of Jordan’s Department of Statistics, 2019[4]) (OECD, 2020[5]) (OECD, 2017[6]). As illustrated by Figure 5.2, broadband internet continues to have a lower penetration rate in territories outside of main urban centres such as Amman, which may limit media and information consumption from social media and online outlets in these places. At the same time, while more than 82% of Jordanians consumed news primarily via television, radio has been noted as the second most popular news source for Jordanians, particularly for those in rural areas who do not have access to internet or satellite technologies (Fanack, 2019[7]). Traditional print media can likewise suffer from distribution challenges across the country, particularly in remote areas; however, it should be noted that even in 2011, less than 3% of Jordanians primarily access the news via newspapers (Ibid).

Further exacerbating the unequal use and access of broadcast technologies that support media and information, additional geographic challenges exist which may affect the salience of news stories across the territory. To be sure, most media outlets tend to be concentrated in the capital, Amman, with less coverage of issues and new stories occurring in the various governorates. In meetings with civil society and media experts, participants have confirmed this trend, suggesting that there is little media coverage of issues outside of Amman aside from high-level visits, events, or “ribbon-cutting” ceremonies. In order to cope with uneven access to media and information via television and internet as well as uneven coverage of local events by traditional news sources, OECD survey results indicate a clear preference by local authorities to use social media (72%) and formal communication methods (62%), including the use of official government letters to communicate with local audiences (OECD, 2020[5]).

In addition to the geographic disparities noted above, a growing “digital divide” has emerged as an additional cross-cutting structural issue in Jordan, which makes equal access to media and information platforms difficult to fully achieve. In this regard, a digital divide can be viewed as “the unequal access of citizens to information and communication technology (ICT), and unequal possession of the skills and experiences needed to optimise this technology that keeps people from taking advantage of public services through the Internet or other ICT channels (Abu-Shanab and Al-Jamal, 2015[9]). As will be described below, evidence suggests the existence of such a “digital divide” between key segments of the population in Jordan.

A first element of the digital divide can be linked to income and income distribution across segments of the population, which may impact both the opportunities and means to access media and information. In particular, official statistics suggest that around 15.7% of the population in the country live in extreme poverty (The Kingdom of Jordan’s Department of Statistics, 2019[4]) (Middle East Monitor, 2019[10]). These measures of poverty have been put into even further relief based on the economic impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, whereby the World Bank estimates suggest that poverty rates may increase by up to 21.6% as additional households are pushed over the poverty line (defined as USD 1.90 per day in 2011 PPP) (World Bank, 2021[11]).

As noted above, these income dynamics are further exaggerated when taking into account the distribution of spatial poverty across the country, including income disparities that persist across Governorates and between urban and rural communities (OECD, 2020[5]). According to the Kingdom of Jordan’s Department of Statistics (2019[4]), Amman is home to “over 40% of the total population, with more than half of all households in the country (59%) in 2018 falling into high or upper-middle-income segments”. Nevertheless, when disaggregated by region, the “North appears to have the highest number of low-income households (29%) compared to the Central (15%) and Southern (23%) regions. Government data also found that a majority of the population in Madaba (61%), Mafraq (75%), Jarash (59%), Ajloun (55%), Tafiela (57%), and Ma’an (60%) fall in the lowest income quantiles” (see Figure 5.3) (ibid).

Based on these spatial poverty dynamics, it is perhaps not surprising that those in areas with a higher incidence of household poverty may have less access to the channels that provide media coverage and information, especially satellite and internet-enabled channels. This is driven by the fact that mobile internet in Jordan is taxed at comparatively high levels, thus amounting to a barrier to broadband access, particularly for the poor (GSMA, 2018[12]). Moreover, data suggests that taxes placed on telecom services, and internet services, in particular, have increased over the period, from 8% to 16% in 2017 (Jordan Times, 2018[13]). Based on the Jordan Department of Statistics survey (2019[4]), “10.5% of respondents cited high costs as a reason for not accessing the internet, up from 8.5% in 2016”.In addition, the same survey suggested that “cost impedes access more in rural areas, where 17.3%of residents do not access the internet due to the price of service, compared to 9.5%in urban areas” (ibid). Similarly, recent results by the Pew Research Centre suggest that internet and smartphone usage is 80% for high-income households but only 50% for low-income households (Silver et al., 2019[14]).

In addition to disparities in income across regions in Jordan, gender is another element that can contribute to a digital divide. To be sure, a number of statistics suggest that women may not enjoy the same access to media and information as men. In particular, survey data collected by a 2018 Pew Research Centre study found that women lag men in a number of key indicators, including internet use (89% for men 84% for women), smartphone use (86% for men 83% for women), social media platform and messaging app use (85% for men 78% for women), and Facebook use (80% for men 61% for women) (Silver et al., 2019[14]). In a recent study evaluating men’s perceptions of women having equal access to broadband internet connections and computers, survey data indicates that “a total of 43.9% of educated men were opposed to women using computers with the Internet [and] only a meagre 26% of men were fully in favour of women using the Internet” (Abu-Shanab and Al-Jamal, 2015[9]).

A final structural element that can contribute to the digital divide is based on age and levels of education, with a bulge in young educated Jordanians having greater access to the technologies that allow them to connect with media and information platforms. Jordan is one of the youngest countries in the world, with more than one-third of the population aged between 12-30 years (OECD, 2020[5]). According to the Pew Research Centre, there is a “real and pervasive” demographic divide among internet users in Jordan. The youth (defined as those between 1-14 years of age) have an 18% higher use rate of internet and smart phone technologies (75% in total) in comparison with the over-40 demographic (57% in total) (Poushter, 2016[15]).Given the number of highly educated young Jordanians and recent graduates, this digital divide is even further reinforced. In particular, survey data collected by a subsequent 2018 Pew Research Centre study found that more educated individuals use technologies to access media than less educated individuals, including internet use (95% for more educated; 78% for less educated), smartphone use (93% for more educated; 76% for less educated), and social media platform and messaging app use (92% for more educated; 70% for less educated) (Silver et al., 2019[14]).

A final structural element that can present challenges to Jordan’s media and information environment is the role that exogenous shocks—both regional and global—can play in defining the media and information enabling environment. These include issues such as the refugee crisis perpetuated by conflicts in neighbouring countries, including a continuing civil conflict in Syria and ensuing instability in Iraq; a weakened security situation as the government of Jordan confronts terrorism, illicit arms trade, and other security threats posed by regional spill-overs; as well as the economic strains and service delivery challenges brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Such global challenges can significantly impact media and information ecosystems in a number of ways, including: (i) how producers of news and media can effectively and safely operate in certain areas in their role as reporters, watchdogs, and intermediaries of information; (ii) how much access citizens have to media and information technologies in these regions; as well as (iii) the attention and salience that the government and public communicators assign to other non-priority issues given the pressing and political nature of overriding global challenges.

Over the past 15 years, massive dislocations fuelled by conflicts in Syria and Iraq have created tremendous pressures on the government to deal with an influx of refugees. In 2019, UNHCR recorded approximately 747 080 refugees in the country, with a significant share (83.5%) primarily living in urban areas (OECD, 2020[5]; UNHCR, 2020[16]) The vast majority of refugees come from Syria (654 692) and are concentrated in Jordan’s most densely populated governorates, including Amman (29.5%), Mafraq (24.8%) and Irbid (20.6%) respectively (ibid). This influx has strained public service delivery and raised concerns around ensuring the long-term socio-economic integration of this group (OECD, 2020[5]).

At the same time, these challenges can significantly impact the production, consumption, and salience of issues covered by media outlets and information platforms in Jordan. With respect to media coverage, a deteriorating security situation may restrict how and when media outlets and citizen journalists are able to cover certain issues, particularly those that are of interest to national security priorities. To be sure, UN Women conducted a 2020 study that found that vulnerable groups—particularly refugee women in Jordan’s Al-Azraq and Al-Za’atari camps—have limited access to enabling technologies that allow them to receive critical media coverage and information sources. In particular, the study found that less than 1% of survey respondents had access to a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer, only 43% were able to access internet through their own smartphone, although only 14% did not have a smartphone but were able to use a family member’s smartphone to access the internet (UN WOMEN, 2020[17]). Such statistics point to the cross-cutting nature of the poverty, gender, and infrastructure challenges noted above—all of which greatly limit the access of the most vulnerable groups to media and information.

Exacerbating these pre-existing dynamics is the massive strain that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may have on the functioning of media and information ecosystems. As such, many countries in the world, and in Jordan in particular, have been forced to respond quickly to ensure the health and safety of its citizens. Linked to the refugee crisis described above, the government has co-ordinated with UNHCR to put in place measures to guarantee access to national health services for refugees (OECD, 2020[18]). With respect to media and information ecosystems, rapid government engagement can help to set the public policy agenda; identify, evaluate, and select policy options; as well as to monitor the effects of policies. All of these functions are critically relevant to the COVID-19 response, especially as governments grapple with large amounts of changing information and pressures to respond in a more effective and efficient manner (OECD, 2020[18]). As noted above, vulnerable groups may not have access to the same broadband, mobile, and satellite services enjoyed by a majority of the population, thus affecting the level of depth quality, and consistency of information that they consume.

This section seeks to analyse the government’s ability to effectively leverage public communications and engage with the media to deliver key messages based on the various institutional arrangements that currently exist. Accordingly, this section considers the legal framework for engagement between the state and the media, interlocutors, and other producers and consumers of media content. In this regard, key laws considered include basic constitutional protections for freedom of expression, speech, and press. To implement these effectively, this section also analyses the adequacy of existing Freedom of Information (FoI) and Access to Information (A2I) legislation as well as the broader legal and regulatory environment governing the media, including laws governing online data privacy and protection, defamation, censorship, hate-speech, secrecy, as well as dis/misinformation. Finally, this section considers the “informal institutions” that may exist in the media sector, including the potential of interference, soft-containment, “red-lines,” and self-censorship. In doing so, this analysis looks at both the de jure legal framework and de facto implementation—both of which are necessary to provide the necessary preconditions for an effective and efficient media ecosystem.

From a constitutional perspective, Jordan’s legal framework puts in place the necessary protections for freedom of expression, speech, and press. Adopted in 1952 and amended in 2011, Article 15 of the Constitution (2011)1 guarantees these fundamental freedoms, as follows:

  • 15.1 “The State guarantees freedom of opinion, and every Jordanian shall be free to express his opinion by speech, in writing, or by means of photographic representation and other forms of expression, provided that such does not violate the law.”

  • 15.2: “Freedom of scientific research and literary, artistic, cultural, and athletic creativity shall be ensured provided that it does not contradict with the law or the public order or moral.”

In addition to the protections of these freedoms, Article 15 of the 2011 constitution also provides a number of limitations and exceptions to these freedoms, as follows:

  • 15.3: “Freedom of the press, printing, publications and media shall be ensured within the limits of the law.”

  • 15.4: “Newspapers shall not be suspended from publication nor shall their permits be revoked except by a judicial order and in accordance with the provisions of the law.”

  • 15.5: “In case of declaration of martial law or state of emergency, it is permissible that the law imposes limited censorship on newspapers and publications, books, media and communication in matters related to public safety and national defence purposes.”

  • 15.6 “The law shall specify means of censorship on the resources of newspapers.”

In addition to these constitutional provisions, Jordan has also ratified a number of international legal instruments that likewise support freedom of expression, speech, and press. Jordan is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights2 as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.3 Both of these seminal international legal instruments guarantee freedom of expression and opinion at the highest level within the international community. At a regional level, Jordan is a signatory to the Arab Charter of Human Rights.4 Article 32 of this instrument states that “this Charter guarantees the right to information and freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the right to search for, receive, and distribute information through any means, without any consideration of geographic borders.” In addition, Jordan is a signatory to other international and regional covenants that protect the core rights of freedom of expression, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child,5 the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement,6 and the Sana’a Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Arab Media.7

Despite these international commitments and aforementioned constitutional protections, there are a number of important limitations and exceptions that may curtail these freedoms. First, as highlighted above, the 2011 Constitution includes provisions for situations when the law may legitimately place limitations on the enshrined rights, particularly in cases related to national security and cases of emergency (e.g. Article 15.5). Likewise, the Constitution includes provisions whereby subsequent legislation and/or judicial decisions may further limit the protection provided by the Constitution, including for instance, means of censorship on the press (Article 15.6). Additionally, it should be noted that the protections put forth in the 2011 Constitution only extend to Jordanians, which leaves open a large category of individuals who are not citizens, and thus not holders of these rights. This is particularly relevant given the prominence of international media outlets that operate in Jordan, as well as the large displaced populations on non-Jordanians currently living in Jordan, including more than 750 000 refugees.

A second critical element for the legal framework to support a robust media and information enabling environment is the existence of legislation guaranteeing the Right to Freedom of Information. In this regard, Jordan adopted Law No. 47 of 2007 on Securing the Right to Information Access in 2007, the first of its kind in the Arab region. Article 7 of the law provides that “each Jordanian citizen has the right to obtain the information he/she requires according to the Provisions of this Law should he/she has a lawful interest or justification.”8 The current legislation provides public officials a maximum period of 30 days to respond to information requests (Article 9) and puts in place provisions for receiving complaints should a request be denied (Article 17). The law also established the Information Council, under the National Library, as the entity responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the law.

Despite the existence of the Right to Information Access law, international observers note that the legal text is vague and includes numerous exemptions. During OECD peer review interviews, stakeholders underlined a series of challenges including that: (i) it does not require the proactive publication of information; (ii) it does not contain explicit provisions on the right to reuse information, nor does it explicitly prohibit it; (iii) it provides for a large number of exceptions, which demand a very careful interpretation of its provisions; and (iv) it does not specify penalties for infringements on the right to access information. Given these deficiencies, the Global Right to Information Rating, produced by the Global Centre for Law and Democracy, scores Jordan’s Law on Securing the Right to Information Access 56 out of a possible score of 150, with a global rank of 119th out of 128 countries surveyed (see Table 5.1) (Global Centre for Democracy, 2016[19]). Likewise, UNESCO’s 2015 Media Development Indicator Report noted that the law “needs to be substantially revised so as to bring it into line with international standards and better national practice, and public bodies in Jordan take the appropriate steps to implement it properly” (UNESCO, 2015[3]).

In addition to challenges with the adequacy and scope of the law, the introduction of the law has not been followed by adequate implementation and enforcement. Many public agencies have yet to adopt or develop policies or mechanisms to implement the legislation, and in some cases, conflicting agency policies exist. Despite these challenges, OECD survey results suggest that a significant share of public communicators within ministries (10 out of 14 surveyed) co-ordinate with the office or person responsible for responding to ATI requests on a regular basis through meetings or other forms of interaction. Furthermore, OECD survey responses suggest that the majority of Ministries share regular information on the institution's activities, news and events as well as raise awareness around specific policy areas (see Figure 5.4). However, fewer Ministries share more technical information on partnerships, tenders and training opportunities, and only a small share communicate information around public consultation, anti-corruption policies, and public service contracts granted. While the type of information shared are relevant for promoting transparency in broad terms, they are indicative of a one-way communication focus, as opposed to a well-functioning balance between proactive disclosure and demand-driven information requests.

From a demand-side perspective, the right to request information remains under-utilised by citizens, media, and CSOs. In fact, only 10 305 requests were filed by citizens between 2012 and 2015 and amounted in total to 12 101 in 2016 (OECD, 2019[20]). Findings from the OECD also noted that these challenges are exacerbated at the subnational level, where procedures to address information requests remain unclear, in particular at the level of municipalities (OECD, 2020[5]). For journalists in particular, a significant majority of those surveyed identified accessing information as a major obstacle in maintaining freedom of the press (Center for Global Communication Studies, 2011[21]).

The government of Jordan appears to have recognised many of these challenges and has been taking proactive steps to improve the implementation of the existing legislation. As noted in the country’s 4th Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, the government recognises that “institutions lack a clear and uniform system for the classification and management of information [and that] the process of acquiring information by journalists and other stakeholders is characterised with difficulty and excessive bureaucracy” (Government of Jordan, 2018[22]). To address these issues, the government of Jordan developed three protocols for classifying, enforcing and managing information in late 2020 (see Box 5.1). The dissemination of these protocols, together with targeted trainings for public communicators in this regard, will be key to strengthening internal processes to manage, respond to and proactively disclose information. At the time of writing, Government counterparts noted that the Parliament was conducting a consultation with civil society on potential amendments to the 2007 ATI law.

In addition to the broad constitutional protections and legislation guaranteeing freedom of expression, speech, press, and access to information, it is equally important to consider how the specific media legal framework—including related laws, regulations, policies, and other institutional arrangements—can impact media and information systems. As such, this section considers the primary laws as well as the amendments or revisions that have been made over the period. Likewise, this section accounts for any regulatory requirements governing the functioning of related institutions, including the agencies responsible for overseeing print, broadcast, and online media sector as well as the behaviour of journalists. Finally, this section highlights related legislation that can affect the functioning of media and information platforms and actors, such as those related to libel, slander, defamation, blasphemy, hate speech, security, and state secrets, among others.9

Jordan has a complex legal framework with numerous—and sometimes overlapping—laws, directives, and regulations governing how media and broadcast organisations as well as online outlets can function. The earliest legislation comes from the Press and Publications Law (No. 8 of 1993),10 which helped to liberalise print media, and in turn, facilitate the establishment of several private newspapers. Subsequently, the Press and Publications Law of 199811 introduced higher capital requirements for new media outlets and designated the Press and Publications Department12 as the authority responsible for overseeing the sector. Concretely, this had the effect of pushing multiple independent news organisations out of business, which could not meet the new requirements (Jones, 2001[23]).

With respect to the regulatory environment, the Press Association Law (No. 15 of 1998)13 re-established the Jordan Press Association (JPA) as responsible for regulating the journalistic profession, serving as a union for Jordanian journalists. Likewise, the Audio-visual Law (No. 71 of 2002),14 resulted in the emergence of new radio and television stations, which considerably increased the diversity of media outlets in Jordan and established the Audio-Visual Commission (AVC) as the regulator for broadcast media (UNESCO, 2015[3]). More recently, the 1998 Press and Publications Law was amended in 2012,15 introducing a series of requirements for news websites to obtain a government license, and applied the law’s content restrictions to online publications.

In addition to these media-specific laws and regulations, there is a wide body of supporting legislation that can have a direct bearing on the media sector, including those governing online content. In this context, the 2010 Cyber Crimes Law and 2014 amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Law were their first of their kind in regulating online content, albeit with the parallel effect of restricting content online (Freedom House, 2017[24]). This initial legislation was updated on the basis of the 2015 Cybercrimes Law, which likewise has included provisions governing “illegal access (Article 3), network and information system sabotage (Article 4), unlawful interception (Article 5), credit cards and financial banking crimes (Article 6, 7, 8), pornography cybercrime (Article 9, 10), slander and denigration (Article 11), illegal reproduction of protected programme (Article 12), cyber evidence (Article 13), and involvement, intervention or incitement (Article 13).”16 In addition to this, Jordan has a number of related laws that define libel, defamation, hate speech, blasphemy, and censorship as well as what constitute “state secrets.” With respect to the laws on libel, slander, and defamation, punishments are considered criminal as opposed to civil offenses, and are severely sanctioned under the Penal Code of Jordan.

Based on the body of laws and regulations that govern media and information ecosystems, international indicators suggest a slow improvement in facilitating a free and an adequately independent environment for these sectors to function. According to the Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Jordan has improved from 143rd to 128th out of 180 countries evaluated from 2015 to 2020. On the contrary, Freedom House’s Freedom of the Net Index notes a stagnation from a score of 50 out of a potential 100 in 2015 to a score of 49 out of a potential 100 in 2020. While discontinued in 2017, the Center for Protecting the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) produced an index measuring the status of media freedoms in Jordan that similarly indicated a low performance based on a composite index. Table 5.2 below presents a number of key metrics developed by international observers to evaluate the adequacy of Jordan’s media and information enabling environment.

This sub-section investigates the extent to which institutional responses to disinformation and misinformation affect the ability of the media outlets and citizen journalists to produce and disseminate information and data. In this regard, Jordan has established a disinformation platform, "Haggak Tiraf" (“You have the Right to Know”),17 which aims to verify the information presented in news stories and social media to prevent the spread of rumours and disinformation. The platform aims to deliver information and necessary clarifications—or in the case of false or misleading information, to refute claims—in an effort to provide timely, accurate, and reliable information, and in a larger sense, to restore citizens’ trust in the government. In this regard, the platform offers an “about the platform” section that presents the latest news and public interest stories; a “did you know” section that presents various national reports on different topics, awareness messages and legislative documents; as well as a fact-checking function and a video library breaking down specific rumours and other misleading or false information.

Despite the existence of the "Haggak Tiraf" platform, findings from survey validation workshops suggest that Jordan does not yet have a mature strategy, guide, or toolkit for countering mis- and dis-information, which could facilitate the objectives of the platform. Rather, survey results suggest that ministries do not follow pre-defined protocols, and those that do, rely on internal operating procedures or other ad hoc measures (see Figure 5.5). Current efforts are underway with OECD support to better understand the performance of the "Haggak Tiraf" and put in place recommendations for improvement based on international and regional good practices in countering mis- and dis-information.

While the "Haggak Tiraf" platform has a number of useful functionalities to combat mis- and dis-information, a number of limitations likewise exist, as noted by survey respondents as well as international observers. Given the increasing flows of data and information, which have become ever more pertinent due to the ensuing COVID-19 public health crisis, a number of weaknesses have been highlighted in terms of the platform’s reactivity, speed, and reach, with an overall consensus by survey respondents that mis- and dis-information responses should be deployed beyond this tool alone. For instance, the “Your Health” application and the frequent press conferences from the Prime Ministry were raised as examples, where the government can also de-bunk false information in the context of COVID-19. In addition to this, another limitation is by highlighting false content, the platform may have the unintended consequence of further publicising fake news, which would have remained otherwise unknown. This concern is shared by activists, citizens, and media outlets, some of whom “had not heard about some rumours until after the platform had published them to refute them” (Rawabdeh, 2019[25]).

In addition to challenges with the platform as a tool to counter false claims, additional institutional challenges exist with respect to how the government proactively counters mis- and dis-information. A first critical area noted by survey respondents is the lack of practical tools, skills, and mandates to identify when and how to respond to mis- and dis-information. As such, there is a growing need for government ministries and agencies to assign dedicated staff with the capacity to assess risk levels and identify rumours within ministries. Linked to this is a need for the Prime Minister’s Office to proactively guide a whole-of-government approach, whereby responses to mis- and dis-information can be more strategically co-ordinated across ministries, departments, and agencies. On the demand side, additional challenges are linked to the need for regaining citizen trust in government, which as noted above, has been lagging in recent years. Accordingly, survey respondents noted how citizen trust can be further leveraged to combat false information, as well as how a lack of trust has impacted the credibility of official releases—and at times—has been taken as confirmation of the rumour itself.

Another key political economy determinant that can influence the media and information enabling environment is the role of “informal institutions,” which can affect the ability of the media to conduct its work in a free and independent manner. Importantly, these differ from the existing “formal institutions” described above, which include laws, regulations, and policies that have formal accountability and sanctioning mechanisms. However, in addition to these, “informal institutions” may emerge along the lines of traditions, societal norms, taboos, and other social practices, which are specific to a given society or culture (Helmke and Levitsky, 2004[26]; Fritz, Kaiser and Levy, 2009[27]). As noted by the OECD “informal institutions—family and kinship structures, traditions, and social norms—not only matter for development, but they are often decisive factors in shaping policy outcomes…” (Jütting et al., 2007, p. Chapter 2[28]).

With respect to media and information systems, such informal institutions may emerge around existing formal institutions, and include a number of non-codified practices, which may substitute, complement, or contradict formalised institutions. For instance, this may involve those in positions of authority utilising tactics of intimidation, threats of violence, arbitrary detention, interference, and the like. In a less draconian form, this may involve forms of “soft containment,” including financial and other “in-kind” incentives provided to journalists and media outlets for favourable reporting and coverage. Finally, informal institutions may come in the form of “redlines” and “self-censorship” as journalists have an implicit knowledge of what topics or subjects not to broach—and as a result of fear of penalty or other informal consequences—decide not to report on certain topics.

With respect to informal practices of intimidation, threats of violence, arbitrary detention, or interference, evidence suggests that Jordan has improved in this regard, but further attention is needed around these issues. According to the Jordan Press Association (JPA), a number of challenges exist that affect the work of journalists, including among others, verbal and physical assaults, pressures to reveal sources of information, threats of prosecution, and summoning by security agencies (JPA, 2014[29]).18 Likewise, the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) has reported issues relating to the safety of journalists, including instances of rough treatment, verbal assaults, and arbitrary dentition (CFDJ, 2011[30]). More recently, Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index 2020 notes that "gag orders and informal instructions to media outlets regarding news coverage are common [and] news websites face onerous registration requirements that, if not met, can serve as a justification for blocking” (Freedom House, 2020[31]). In most cases, international observers, including the JPA, CDFJ, Freedom House, and UNESCO's Media Development Indicators, suggest that there is a high level of impunity for those in authority from perpetuating these acts.

Reinforcing these informal measures are forms of “soft containment” applied by those in a position of authority, which likewise jeopardise journalistic freedom and editorial independence. To be sure, survey results by the Al-Quds Centre for Political Science have cited a number of channels through which "soft containment" can be practiced, including financial grants and gifts, facilitation of procedures, access to important meetings or events, and other administrative exemptions for compliant media organisations (Jordan Media Monitor, 2012[32]). Likewise, “incentives” can likewise come from non-governmental entities, including businessmen, security forces, influential figures, CSOs, and political parties (ibid). Given these issues—which are not unique to Jordan—evidence suggests that they can have adverse effects that jeopardise journalistic independence and the content of reporting.

Finally, while there are no laws imposing prior censorship in Jordan, the informal institutions of “redlines,” and relatedly, “self-censorship” are very clear. Accordingly, CDFJ survey results suggest that there are a number of topics that journalists continue to avoid criticising, representing de facto “redlines”—topics or subjects where journalists know they cannot tread. According to recent analytics conducted by CDFJ, key subjects that journalists “avoided” criticising include the armed forces, Royal Court, judiciary, tribal leaders, security services, and political leaders (CFDJ, 2014[33]). Likewise, journalists tend to “avoid” mentioning religious issues, sexual issues, and security issues, for fear of informal repercussion (ibid). Given these redlines, journalists engage in “self-censorship,” which may be in response to wide-ranging provisions on what constitutes libel, slander, defamation, or blasphemy. As a result of this level of self-censorship, the media and information environment may not be able to function as freely as necessary to provide timely, accurate, and unbiased reporting.

This final part of the analysis seeks to analyse the various stakeholder constraints that may exist in effectively leveraging media and information outlets to support public communication. A first element of this includes understanding who the stakeholders are and how they operate in the media ecosystem, including the roles of media producers, media consumers, media regulators, government spokespeople, as well as the CSOs and other info-mediaries who help to interpret information and make it salient for selected target audiences. To better understand the political economy dynamics between these stakeholder groups, this section seeks to explore the binding constraints, incentives, financial resources, and HR capacities that may impact the integrity of a robust media and information sector in Jordan.

Jordan’s print, broadcast, radio, and online outlets are relatively diverse, and have increased over time due to liberalised laws and fewer regulatory restrictions. While this analysis does not seek to provide a comprehensive account of all media outlets that operate in Jordan, key private and public media outlets include 21 press institutions—nine daily, nine weekly, and three monthly newspapers—as well as 139 to 141 online news websites that have been granted licenses (Al Mamlaka, 2021[34]). As noted by UNESCO, there are a number of major Arabic dailies, including Ad Dustour, Al Ghad and Al Rai, which each have a circulation in excess of 50 000, while As Sabeel,19 Al Diyar, Al Anbat, and Jordan Times, have a somewhat smaller reach (UNESCO, 2015[3]). For their part, television broadcast outlets have likewise grown in Jordan. Currently, 45 satellite television channels operate in Jordan, 17 of which are owned by and directed at Jordanians, 15 of which are private, and two of which are public (UNESCO, 2015[3]).

Radio remains an important channel of broadcast in Jordan, both at the national and regional levels, including 37 FM radio stations operating in Jordan (UNESCO, 2015[3]). In 2000, AmmanNet was established as the Arab world’s first online radio station, and in 2015, al-Balad was established as an online community radio channel, dedicated to social and cultural discussion (Fanack, 2017[35]). In addition, online media has expanded in recent years in Jordan, and major outlets include Ammon News, 7iber, Jafra News, Khaberni, Saraya, among others. These outlets are often linked to social and digital media platforms and use a multi-media approach to disseminate news, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among others.

Despite a growing and diverse media ecosystem, there are a number of systemic challenges that news outlets face in Jordan, including challenges posed to their plurality and independent reporting. Since the adoption of the 2002 Audio-visual Media Law, private outlets have grown considerably, but the state remains a dominant actor in terms of media ownership, including 17 out of 41 radio stations, all terrestrial television broadcasting (e.g. Jordan Television and its Sports channel), and three out of seven of the country’s daily newspapers, through ownership of the Social Security Corporation of majority stakes in Al Rai, Addustour and the Jordan Times (UNESCO, 2015[3]). Such a high concentration of state ownership in the sector may affect structural and editorial independence, which can include a lack of autonomy in the way that governing boards and senior staff are appointed, interference in programming and staffing, and slant in reporting.

A related issue is how a lack of media pluralism affects consumer interest, given limits on the scope and depth of coverage on certain issues. A key finding of the peer review mission was that Jordanian media is often side-lined in favour of other Arab-language international media outlets such as Al Jazeera, MBC and Al Arabiya. At the same time, given that a majority of media outlets are located in Amman with few local television stations or daily newspapers outside the capital, UNESCO notes that “the national media is perceived to pay rather little attention to events taking place in remote areas outside of the big cities” (UNESCO, 2015[3]). Given a high rate of access, with more than 90% of Jordanians having access to satellite television broadcast, international outlets are able to capture much of the domestic media market, including BBC, Radio Monte Carlo, CNN International, Al Jazeera and MBC among others.

The journalism profession and the role of individual journalists in Jordan is largely governed by the Jordan Press Association (JPA). As such, the JPA serves not only as a professional association and union for journalists, but also as the principal accreditor who can officially work as a journalist. In order to qualify as a journalist, Article 5 of the Jordan Press Association Law (1998) notes that certain requirements are necessary, including, among others: (i) Jordanian nationality; (ii) no convictions including misdemeanours or felonies; (iii) enjoyment of full legal capacity; (iv) a qualification from an accredited college or university; and (v) full-time employment for a media outlet registered with the Social Security Cooperation.20 UNESCO notes that the JPA current counts 1 100 members who work as full time journalists (UNESCO, 2015[3]).

As a result of the current legal framework, a key issue for journalists in Jordan is how the accreditation process functions, including a notable lack of coverage across the profession. As noted, the JPA strictly governs the accreditation process for journalists, making it impermissible to accredit journalists working for foreign outlets as well as most other news outlets outside of the traditional print media. To be sure, JPA membership does not include many journalists working for radio, television, or online outlets, especially those working in "non-news" departments, such as sports, lifestyle, and entertainment (UNESCO, 2015[3]). While the JPA continues to maintain a monopoly on accrediting journalists, it has been estimated that an additional one-third of journalists are working and unable to gain JPA accreditation—leaving them excluded from key protections and benefits (Al-Natour, 2014[36]). While the JPA remains the principle professional organisation for journalists, additional professional associations have made in-roads, including the Society for Jordanian Broadcasters as well as the Electronic Journalism Society, which seek to include more comprehensive and inclusive definitions of what constitutes a journalist.

Linked to challenges with accreditation of journalists in Jordan, additional issues have emerged, including a lack of systematic journalistic training and professionalisation. As noted by UNESCO, six universities provide advanced education in journalism, including Yarmouk, Petra, Jadara, Middle East, Zarqa, and Philadelphia universities, in addition to local civil society organisations such as the Jordan Media Institute (UNESCO, 2015[3]). In addition to these university training programmes, international donors have supported a number of targeted trainings for journalists in Jordan focusing on key competencies. While these programmes have been generally well-received, the dominance of international donors may crowd out other domestic or home-grown training initiatives and have limited sustainability in comparison with the development of national training institutions. Based on the findings of the peer review data collection mission, additional training opportunities and professionalisation programmes are needed as there is a growing perception that many journalists are “aggressive and unprofessional,” which in turn undermines their engagement with government and trust among citizens. Such professionalisation programmes would be especially relevant given the lack of “watch dog” organisations that monitor the behaviour of the media against unprofessional media practices.

Jordan has a number of regulatory institutions charged with oversight, licencing, and accreditation of broadcast outlets and journalists. The formal broadcast regulatory agency is the Jordan Media Commission (JMC), which was created in 2014. The mandate of JMC is governed by Article 4 of the 2014 Audio-visual Media Law, and includes—among other responsibilities—the ability to: (i) regulate the audio-visual media sector; (ii) study licence applications; and (iii) monitor the work of licensees.21 However, in terms of the awarding of licenses, the JMC Director is only able to make a recommendation on the “granting, renewal, amendment or cancellation of broadcasting licences” to the Council Of Ministers, which under Article 18, “may refuse to grant broadcasting licences to any entity without stating the reasons for such rejection.”22

In a similar role, the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) was established under Article 6 of the 1995 Telecommunication Law to manage the radio frequency spectrum.23 As noted by UNESCO, the TRC has a joint jurisdiction with the Armed Forces to manage the radio frequencies spectrum for civilian use, as well as the authority to license the spectrum (UNESCO, 2015[3]). Finally, as noted above, the Jordan Press Association (JPA) is both a professional association representing the interests of journalists as well as the de facto authority for accrediting journalists.

Despite the regulatory role of JMC, a number of issues suggest that it does not function as a truly independent agency. To be sure, the government has the sole authority, under Article 6 of the 2014 Audio-visual Media Law, to directly appoint or dismiss the JMC director, which inherently diminishes JMC’s standing as an independent agency.24 Likewise, the revenues collected through the management of licensing are not kept by JMC itself, but rather, returned to the general budget, thus making the JMC dependent on the government for its operating budget. At the same time, “the public has no insight into this aspect of the JMCs decision making regarding licence [or] broadcasters’ sources of funding” (UNESCO, 2015[3]). In order to enhance the regulatory independence and transparency of JMC, it would be necessary to ensure that it can independently appoint its leadership, develop independent revenue streams to finance its operations, as well as to make public key application and decision documents in the licencing process.

In terms of other forms of regulation and oversight, including the existence of an ombudsman or other complaint mechanisms, current practices suggest that these functions are underdeveloped. Currently, no ombudsman governing the media and broadcast sector exists in Jordan, nor do individual media organisations have in place internal ombudsmen to hear complaints from citizens. According to Articles 47-48 of the JPA Law, the only system currently in place for receiving complaints is linked to JPA’s Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Boards, which allows for complaints to be “submitted to the President of the JPA who then gives the journalist who is the subject of the complaint 15 days to reply” (UNESCO, 2015[3]). Despite the existence of this system, its efficacy is undermined given that JPA accreditation procedures exclude a large portion of journalists. Moreover, as noted during the OECD peer mission, the lack of a Code of Conduct that applies to a broader range of journalist and adequate oversight mechanisms have led to a persistence of poor journalistic standards.

Government agencies in Jordan have increasingly been engaging with media to better inform and engage public audiences. Since 2018, a new National Population Media Strategy (2018-2022) calls for initiatives to align the role of the media with government policy priorities for employment and training of the workforce (The Jordan Media Institute, n.d.[37]). To support these efforts, and as discussed in Chapter 3, the government has established a network of public communicators, known as the Shabakat Al Natiqeen fil Wuzaraat wa‘al Muasasaat al Hukumiya Al Urduniya, translated literally as “Network of Spokespersons in the Ministries and Institutions of the Government of Jordan.” Through this network, the government seeks to reinforce the capacities of spokespeople in key ministries, departments, and agencies as well as to co-ordinate messaging across ministries, departments, and agencies. As confirmed by a recent OECD survey among 14 public entities and MoSMA, findings suggest that 71% of ministries currently have an official spokesperson in place (see Figure 5.6).

While these early efforts have helped to bring together representatives from different ministries—which is especially relevant given the current COVID pandemic response efforts—a number of challenges persist with respect to relations between the government and media. A first issue is the varying levels of capacity and experience of government spokespeople in engaging with journalists. Based on findings from the peer review mission and survey, communication skills are often a challenge for public communicators, who either prefer to avoid the media due to lack of adequate media training or might be off-message if not provided with adequate support. In addition, there does not appear to be a system of pre-briefing spokespeople ahead of contact with the media, whereas pre-established lines and rebuttals are best prepared after preliminary contact with media or otherwise anticipated.

This lack of familiarity with engaging journalists is exacerbated by practices surrounding the dissemination of information to journalists, including through press releases. Media statements in Jordan are typically made twice weekly, at the end of the day; however, such practices should be avoided because the end of the day is out of sync with the news cycle and catches communications staff with little time to prepare (see Figure 5.7). Information gathered during OECD interviews further indicated a perceived tendency for the government to provide information preferentially to publicly owned media, to the disadvantage of other outlets. Similar challenges exist with respect to the organisation and implementation of press conferences, which appear to be done on an ad-hoc basis. Survey results show that a significant share of ministries primarily grant journalists access to press conferences through direct invitation by the institution, which are also often journalists that the institution has engaged with before. As a consequence, media are inclined to seek information in ways that can create burdens and inefficiencies on spokespeople, with journalists often directly and informally contacting ministers or other government spokespeople, representing a break in protocol and uneven news coverage across outlets.

As noted above, access and availability to media and information varies among key audiences, given Jordan’s diverse set of demand-side actors. The gradual evolution of the media ecosystem in the country has affected the ways in which the public consumes, communicates, and shares information. Notably, Jordan has a high internet penetration rate more than half of the population actively using WhatsApp (78%), Facebook (70%) and YouTube (49%) (Internet World Statistics, 2018[39]). Television (88%) and smartphones (77%) are the most popular channels for Jordanians to consult the news, in addition to a growing share who use Facebook (41%), YouTube (28%) and WhatsApp (24%) for this purpose (NorthWestern University, 2017[40]).

These trends are all the more important when it comes to young people. With youth (aged 12-30) accounting for more than one-third of the population, Jordan is one of the youngest countries in the world (OECD Development Centre, 2018[41]). As in most OECD countries, social media has become a primary vehicle for engaging with youth, since a significant majority of the target group aged between 18-22 makes use of WhatsApp (82%), Facebook (82%), YouTube (63%) and Instagram (57%) (Northwestern University, 2018[42]).

For their part, civil society organisations are becoming more active in ensuring that media laws and institutions function adequately and that they themselves serve as info-mediaries for key sections of the population. In Jordan, the Centre for Defending Journalists Freedom (CDFJ) is a key interlocutor and advocacy actor, with a mission to “defend media freedom and provide protection to Arab journalists by addressing violations to their rights, providing professional development and ensuring free access to information” (CFDJ, n.d.[43]). Likewise, the Jordan Media Institute has championed the issues of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) as a key policy priority to answer several of the main challenges confronting Jordan, including: responding to disinformation, education, critical thinking, empowerment, ethics, and 21st-century skills (see Box 5.3). These efforts respond to the government’s National Population Media Strategy (2018-2022), which has recognised an emerging demographic window requiring an adjustment to educational, training, employment, health and other relevant policies (Jordan Times, 2018[44]).

A key challenge that remains is how the government can best address the changing population demographics in order to ensure that all Jordanians benefit equally from improvements to the media-enabling environment. As mentioned above, a growing “digital divide” has emerged as an additional cross-cutting structural issue in Jordan, which makes equal access to media and information platforms difficult to fully achieve. In this regard, it is critical to understand how certain actors in society can be left behind, which can occur on the basis of socio-economic status, gender, and age, among other determinants. These issues are particularly salient as Jordan deals with an ongoing refugee crisis perpetuated by conflicts in neighbouring countries, a weakened security situation, as well as the economic strains and service delivery challenges brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

This chapter provided an assessment of Jordan’s media and information enabling environment in order to determine how it can be best leveraged in support of its ongoing public communication and media engagement efforts. It underlined the importance of a number of political economy issues from structural, institutional, and stakeholder perspectives, which should be addressed in order to best utilise the media to communicate its public policy priorities.

  • Use audience insights and channel selection to target messaging and content a wider variety of local stakeholders, which can help to bridge the digital divide to include the poor, women, and youth as key actors in the media and information ecosystem. Where possible, national and local authorities should make use of data on news consumption trends to tailor their selection of audiences and channels. Given disparities in internet access across regions as well as uneven coverage of local issues, it is necessary to ensure that all segments of the population have access to news and public information. While social media can be an effective means to communicate, care must be taken in terms of channel selection to ensure that vulnerable segments of the population can also access relevant information, in particular as digital literacy levels vary significantly across governorates.

  • Develop specialised media outreach campaigns on selected issues to specific vulnerable groups through the use of media and information literacy capacity building. With respect to refugees, particular media, information, and public communication campaigns can target these audiences to inform them of the requirements, opportunities, and other relevant information needed for them to better engage with national institutions, programmes, and initiatives. With respect to COVID, Jordan could replicate efforts of other countries who countries have already begun to implement media outreach measures such as campaigns on TV, radio and social media to raise awareness among citizens about hygiene rules and preventative measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 (OECD, 2020[18]).

  • Support training and sensitisation efforts related to the recently adopted ATI protocols, which provide clear guidance on classifying, enforcing and managing information. Going forward, technical assistance and capacity building is needed to train Access to Information focal points in various Ministries, departments, and agencies responsible for the implementation of the law as well as training trainers, who can mainstream these provisions across institutions. On the demand side, additional assistance is needed to sensitise and support CSOs, media, research institutions, “info-mediaries,” and citizen journalists to submit Access to Information requests. Such efforts can involve the development of guidelines or practical handbooks that inform these actors of their rights, remedies, and expectations with respect to the existing legislation.

  • Conduct a comprehensive legal review to better understand the existing laws, regulations, and policies, with an effort to bring them into alignment with international good practices. As has been noted by UNESCO’s 2015 Media Development Indicators, there is a large body of laws, regulations, and policies governing the media and information sector, some of which overlap and conflict with each other. In addition to this, efforts can be made to enhance the transparency of regulatory bodies—namely, the Jordan Press Association and Jordan Media Commission—including disclosure of decisions related to accreditation of journalists and licensing of media outlets. Finally, laws related to libel, slander, defamation, and the like should be to be reviewed with an effort to reduce these to civil, and not criminal offenses to be better aligned with international standards.

  • Conduct an assessment of the government’s efforts to counter mis- and dis-information, including a review of the "Haggak Tiraf" platform. As has been discussed with key stakeholders, the current "Haggak Tiraf" platform on its own cannot reduce the effects of disinformation and a comprehensive assessment is needed to improve its functioning. In this regard, it would be necessary to develop an assessment of the platform with actionable recommendations for increasing its effectiveness in debunking rumours and advancing factual information. This review could be the first of its kind in the region to assess the status quo of disinformation as well as provide support for public institutions to understand the different tools and governance responses available.

  • Continue efforts to support transparency and oversight in the media and information sector to reduce the influence of informal practices. In this regard, watchdog organisations such CDFJ should be supported by international and domestic partners in continuing their oversight and related analytics of the sector. Likewise, to avoid the undue influence of “soft containment”, media outlets should be subject to mandatory financial and operational disclosures, in line with the existing laws, in an effort to provide greater transparency on their sources of funding.

  • Support an enabling environment and financial incentives –including fiscal (tax) incentives, lowering capital requirements for licencing, or providing seed-funding for local outlets—to encourage a plurality of media outlets, including those at the local levels who can better cover issues relevant to local communities. This can involve more direct support to local media outlets, include small local weeklies, local FM radio stations, and other online outlets that cover a broader range of issues pertinent to the wider population.

  • Support the further professionalisation of journalists through expanded accreditation procedures and local training institutions. This would include finding alternatives to the monopoly status of the JPA as the core accrediting agency for journalists in order to more adequately include TV broadcast, radio, and online journalists. At the same time, training opportunities can be supported to improve the professional skills of journalists in an effort to better sensitise them to interfacing with government representatives.

  • Support the development of strengthening transparency and oversight mechanisms, including the development of an ombudsman or independent complaints mechanism that governs the broader media sector, including all broadcast outlets and journalists. Likewise, it would be equally necessary for the JPA or other professional associations to develop an effective Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics that applies to not only accredited print journalists, but also those working for TV broadcast, radio, and online media outlets.

  • Develop the capacities of government agencies that engage the media, including the institutionalisation of standardised procedures and practices, including those for press releases and press conferences. For instance, the government may consider developing comprehensive guidelines for media engagement at all levels of government to ensure a standardised approach, including the collective adoption of the activity grid with the council of ministers as well as digital tools and engaging with the media to foster more co-ordinated measures in all ministries. Likewise, it is necessary to formalise the communications role through the development of an official competency framework.

  • Support ongoing government-led Media and Information Literacy efforts to enable CSOs, citizens, and other individuals in becoming informed media consumers. In this regard, a particular focus should be given to learning more about regional, poor, female, and youth audiences, adapting media messaging to their preferred means for engagement. Special attention could be paid to support media and information literacy of these groups through targeting training and outreach activities in an effort to reduce the digital divide.


[9] Abu-Shanab, E. and N. Al-Jamal (2015), “Exploring the Gender Digital Divide in Jordan”, Gender, Technology and Development, Vol. 19/1, pp. 91-113, https://doi.org/10.1177/0971852414563201.

[34] Al Mamlaka (2021), Director of the Media Authority: A draft law to guarantee the right to information will soon see the light, https://www.almamlakatv.com/news/65181.

[36] Al-Natour (2014), “A third of journalists are outside the union”, http://ar.ammannet.net/news/238892.

[21] Center for Global Communication Studies (2011), Introduction to News Media Law and Policy in Jordan, https://repository.upenn.edu/jordan_program/1.

[33] CFDJ (2014), “Status of Media Freedom on Jordan 2014”, Center for defending Freedom of Journalists, p. 16, https://english.cdfj.org/cdfj-launches-its-2014-annual-report-on-media-freedom-status-in-jordan-dead-end/.

[30] CFDJ (2011), “Status of Media Freedoms in Jordan, 2011; 2013. Status of Media Freedoms in Jordan, 2013; and 2014. Status of Media Freedom in Jordan 2014: Dead End, p. 16.”.

[43] CFDJ (n.d.), CFDJ Main website in English, https://english.cdfj.org (accessed on 20 February 2021).

[7] Fanack (2019), Jordan’s Media Landscape, https://fanack.com/jordan/society-media-culture/jordan-media/ (accessed on 25 September 2019).

[35] Fanack (2017), Media in Jordan, https://fanack.com/jordan/media-in-jordan/.

[31] Freedom House (2020), Jordan: Freedom in the World 2020 Country Report, https://freedomhouse.org/country/jordan/freedom-world/2020.

[24] Freedom House (2017), Freedom on the Net 2017 - Jordan, https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FOTN%202017_Jordan.pdf.

[27] Fritz, V., K. Kaiser and B. Levy (2009), Problem-Driven Governance and Political Economy Analysis : Good Practice Framework, World Bank, Washington, DC.

[19] Global Centre for Democracy (2016), RTI Rating, https://www.rti-rating.org/country-data/Jordan/ (accessed on 13 April 2021).

[22] Government of Jordan (2018), Fourth Open Government Partnership National Action Plan (2018-2020), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Jordan_Action-Plan_2018-2020.pdf.

[12] GSMA (2018), State of Mobile Internet Connectivity.

[26] Helmke, G. and S. Levitsky (2004), “Informal Institutions and Comparative Politics: A Research Agenda”, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 2/04, pp. 725-740, https://doi.org/10.1017/s1537592704040472.

[39] Internet World Statistics (2018), Middle East Internet Users, Population and Facebook Statistic in 2018, https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats5.htm (accessed on 26 September 2019).

[23] Jones, D. (ed.) (2001), Censorship: A World Encyclopedia, Routledge.

[32] Jordan Media Monitor (2012), Soft Containment and its Effect on the Independence of Media.

[13] Jordan Times (2018), “Government raises minimum wage, hikes taxes on tobacco, telecom services”, http://bit.ly/2ltIPqH.

[44] Jordan Times (2018), “Jordan launches media strategy to invest in ‘upcoming demographic window’”, http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/jordan-launches-media-strategy-invest-upcoming-demographic-window%E2%80%99.

[29] JPA (2014), “Third report on Press and Media Freedoms Indicators in Jordan”, pp. 9-12.

[28] Jütting, J. et al. (eds.) (2007), Informal Institutions: How Social Norms Help or Hinder Development, Development Centre Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264039070-en.

[10] Middle East Monitor (2019), Government survey: Extreme poverty in Jordan at 15.7%, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190409-government-survey-extreme-poverty-in-jordan-at-15-7/.

[40] NorthWestern University (2017), Social Media Use in the Middle East, http://www.mideastmedia.org/survey/2017/interactive/social-media/who-use-the-following-social-media-platforms-facebook-whatsapp-twitter-instagram-snapchat-youtube-etc.html (accessed on 26 September 2019).

[42] Northwestern University (2018), Media Use in the Middle East, http://www.mideastmedia.org/survey/2018/interactive/online-and-social-media/who-use-the-following-social-media-platforms.html# (accessed on 26 September 2019).

[38] OECD (2020), Citizens’ Voice: The role of public communication and media for a more open government in Jordan event summary notes, https://www.oecd.org/gov/open-government/citizens-voice-in-jordan-validation-workshop.pdf.

[18] OECD (2020), “COVID-19 crisis response in MENA countries”, OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19), OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/4b366396-en.

[5] OECD (2020), Engaging Citizens in Jordan’s Local Government Needs Assessment Process, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/c3bddbcb-en.

[20] OECD (2019), Institutions Guaranteeing Access to Information: OECD and MENA Region, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/e6d58b52-en.

[6] OECD (2017), Towards a New Partnership with Citizens: Jordan’s Decentralisation Reform, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264275461-en.

[41] OECD Development Centre (2018), Youth Well-being Policy Review of Jordan, EU-OECD Youth Inclusion Project, Paris, http://www.oecd.org/dev (accessed on 26 September 2019).

[15] Poushter, J. (2016), “Internet Access Growing Worldwide but Remains Higher in Advanced Economies”, http://pewrsr.ch/1TwX4H2.

[25] Rawabdeh (2019), “The “Your Right to Know” platform”, Al Jazeera, http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/govt-launches-%E2%80%98right-know%E2%80%99-app-bid-combat-rumours.

[14] Silver, L. et al. (2019), Mobile Connectivity in Emerging Economies, Pew Research Center, https://www.pewinternet.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2019/03/PI_2019.03.07_Mobile-Connectivity_FINAL.pdf.

[37] The Jordan Media Institute (n.d.), National Population Media Strategy 2018-2022, https://www.jmi.edu.jo/en/national-population-media-strategy-2018%E2%80%932022.

[4] The Kingdom of Jordan’s Department of Statistics (2019), Jordan Population and Family Health Survey 2017-18.

[1] TRA (2019), Telecommunications Market Indicators (Q1/2018-Q4/2018), Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.

[17] UN WOMEN (2020), Gender and the digital divide in situations of displacement: The experiences of Syrian refugee women in Al-Azraq and Al-Za’atari camps.

[3] UNESCO (2015), “Assessment of media development in Jordan”.

[16] UNHCR (2020), Syria Regional Refugee response portal, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/36.

[11] World Bank (2021), MENA Crisis Tracker, https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/280131589922657376/pdf/MENA-Crisis-Tracker-June-27-2021.pdf.

[8] World Bank (2020), Does the internet reduce gender gaps? The case of Jordan, http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/282451584107082621/pdf/Does-the-Internet-Reduce-Gender-Gaps-The-Case-of-Jordan.pdf.

[2] World Bank (2019), World Development Indicators, https://databank.worldbank.org/source/world-development-indicators.


← 1. Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Amended 2011.

← 2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

← 3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

← 4. Arab Charter of Human Rights, Article 32, 2004.

← 5. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

← 6. Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement.

← 7. Sanaa Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Arab Media.

← 8. Law No. 47 on Securing the Right to Information Access, 2017.

← 9. While this analysis seeks to present an overview of key laws and regulations, it should not be considered as an exhaustive legal analysis, as this is a highly complex sector with multiple overlapping laws and a dynamic legal framework. To be sure, there are more than a 20 laws and statues in Jordan that directly govern the media, including among others: The Press and Publications Law (1998) as amended, Penal Code (1960) as amended, State Security Court Law (1959) as amended, Contempt of Courts Law (1959), Protection of State Secrets and Documents Law (1971), Jordan Press Association Law (1998) as amended, Jordan Television and Radio Corporation Law (2000), Provisional Law for Audio-visual Media (2002), Prevention of Terrorism Law (2006) as amended, Access to Information Law (2007), Jordan News Agency Law (2009), Cyber Crimes Law (2010).

← 10. Press and Publications Law No. 10 for the year 1993, published in the Official Gazette No. 15391, p. 311, 17 April 1993.

← 11. Law No. 8 of 1998, published in the Official Gazette No. 4300, p. 3162, 1 September 1998.

← 12. Department within the former Ministry of Information, which then was set under the PMO and subsequently merged with the Audio-Visual Commission to form the Media Commission.

← 13. Law No. 15 of 1998, published in the Official Gazette No. 4304, p. 3745, 1 October 1998.

← 14. Provisional Law No. 71 of 2002 for Audiovisual Media.

← 15. Amended Press and Publications Law no. 30 for the year 2012.

← 16. The 2015 Cybercrimes Law.

← 17. حقك تعرف (haggak.jo).

← 18. The survey is based on questionnaires distributed to 582 journalists and managers from daily and weekly newspapers.

← 19. The As Sabeel journal recently switched to a sole online model.

← 20. Article 5 of the Jordan Press Association Law (1998).

← 21. The Jordan Media Commission was established on 30 April 2014 by Law no.17 for the year 2014.

← 22. Article 18(b) Law of the 2014 Audiovisual Media Law.

← 23. Telecomunications Law, no. 13 for the year 1995, published in the Official Gazzette on 1 October 1995, edition No. 4072, p. 2939.

← 24. Article 6(b) Law of the 2014 Audiovisual Media Law.

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