Country files

Freedom of the press is guaranteed by Article 28 of the Moroccan Constitution. The sector is regulated by the Press and Publishing Law promulgated in 2016 Press Code. This law repealed the 2002 law, deemed restrictive. Several provisions have been amended. They include the abolition of prison sentences for press offenses, the recognition of freedom of access to information as a constitutional right, and the recognition of online media as media supports in their own right. Another positive adjustment was the creation of the National Press Council, charged with overseeing media performance and protecting the journalistic profession.

However, despite these reforms, the legislative environment relating to press freedom has its limits. While the new press code no longer provides for prison sentences, it retains most of the expressive offences provided for in the old 2002 code. These penalties, introduced by amendment to the penal code in July 2016, can lead a journalist to detention, particularly for writings or public speeches “undermining” the monarchy, the person of the King, Islam and the territorial integrity of Morocco.


In addition, other laws amended or enacted over the last six years have strengthened the judicial arsenal: the anti-terrorism law adopted after the Casablanca bombings in 2003 and the defamation law enacted in 2019, which provides for severe penalties to combat defamation on social networks.


In the field of audiovisual law, despite the end of the state monopoly in 2002 with the creation of the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HACA) and the various laws aimed at liberalizing the sector adopted in 2005, 2015 and 2016, the field remains tightly controlled. Indeed, although these laws have encouraged the emergence of new private radio stations – There are 19 private radio stations by 2022 – and public TV channels -9 channels-, the panorama of private TV channels has not expanded.


Finally, the law on access to information, which came into force in March 2020, lists thirteen categories of information that can be exempted from the right of access, such as national defense and privacy. However, the scope of these categories is not precisely defined, making access to information inequitable.


Television remains the most popular source of information in Morocco. However, the Moroccan audiovisual sector, whose main news channels are 2M and Al Aoula, is struggling to attract a large audience, who are more inclined to turn to pan-Arab satellite channels, particularly Qatar’s Al Jazeera.


Behind the mass media, the Internet is just as widespread, especially among young Moroccans aged 18 to 35. 87% of them get their news via the Internet and social networks, where information is no longer produced solely by professional journalists, but also by citizen journalists, influencers, bloggers and content creators.


There is still no map to record the number of sites flooding the Moroccan web, with varying estimates fluctuating between 2,000 and 5,000.


Although the traditional press has entered the digital space, it is struggling to establish itself, outstripped by the overwhelming popularity of Arabic-language pure players. These media, many of which cover regional, national and international news, have succeeded in carving out a place for themselves in the media landscape, such as Hespress, which ranks first with 19.3 million daily visits, or ChoufTV, a Web TV with an editorial line focused on sensationalism, which registers over 18 million subscribers on its Facebook page and exceeds one billion views per month for all its videos on YouTube.


Radio’s highest penetration is in urban areas, with 55% of listeners nationwide. Mohamed VI du Saint Coran, a public radio station, remains the most listened-to radio station, followed by Med Radio, the leading commercial radio station. Its programs allow direct listener participation and focus mainly on entertainment and social issues. According to the regulatory body, there are a total of 35 stations, 16 state-owned and 19 privately-owned.

Finally, the print media, already confined to urban areas due to the country’s high illiteracy rate and weakened by a structural crisis over many years, has not withstood the impact of the health crisis.


Behind this apparent pluralism, the media landscape is marked by a high concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few private groups. The study “Radioscopie des propriétaires des médias au Maroc“, carried out in 2017 by the Moroccan news website Le Desk and the NGO Reporters sans frontières (RSF), highlighted a significant concentration of Moroccan media in the hands of a few companies and influential figures in the country’s political and economic life, as well as the Société nationale d’investissement, a holding company owned by the royal family.

The radio sector remains largely state-controlled, but ownership is more diversified, with the presence of small companies. Private radio stations have grown rapidly over the years, with a steadily increasing audience share. However, the coverage of political issues in these media remains very limited. On the whole, stations broadcast entertainment, music and economic topics.


Finally, Moroccan audiovisual law does not allow community radio stations to broadcast over the airwaves, the internet remains the only free media in Morocco able to bypass such restrictions. Numbering 69 community radio stations in 2015, there are now just 15 or so.

The practice of self-censorship is high in Morocco. Journalists deliberately avoid sensitive subjects or modify them for fear of reprisals. Moreover, self-censorship concerns not only political subjects, but also societal issues such as sexuality and religion. According to the Centre for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), almost 80% of media professionals admit to practicing it, mainly for economic reasons. Censorship remains widespread, but is mainly indirect, through economic pressure.


The exponential growth of online media has exacerbated the lack of ethical rigor that has already been prevalent in some media for several years.


Access to information is often hampered by a lack of transparency and communication on the part of the authorities. Journalists often find it difficult to obtain information and carry out in-depth investigations due to the reluctance of government officials to divulge sensitive or embarrassing information. The legal framework relating to access to information remains insufficient, although Morocco adopted a law on freedom of access to information in 2018, which came into force in March 2019, this law is not often applied and has not ensured easy and transparent access to information, particularly for independent journalists and alternative media.

The pandemic has weakened an already fragile profession. Job losses were significant, with some fifty positions eliminated, in addition to the multiplication of industrial disputes and staff cuts ranging from 20% to 50% during the period of the health crisis.


The rise of online media has led to a significant increase in the number of journalists working in the digital press, who today represent 40% of the Moroccan journalist workforce, or 1,360 information professionals.



Despite legislative advances and policies to promote gender equality in Morocco, women remain under-represented in the media, where almost 72% of journalists are men. Faced with obstacles such as discrimination, harassment and gender prejudice, they also remain under-represented in management positions and decision-making bodies in the Moroccan media. They also have fewer opportunities to cover sensitive topics, which limits their ability to develop professionally… According to the CNP (National Press Council), only 259 of the 1336 journalists working in the digital sector and holding a press card are women (2021).


Independent media are often created and managed by journalists keen to disseminate free and diversified information. However, these media, which tend to focus on sensitive subjects and provide critical coverage of current events, have difficulty reaching a wide audience and lack the financial resources to develop.


Finally, in Morocco, journalism training is provided by some thirty university courses, including 4 private schools and one public school, the Institut Supérieur de l’Information et de la Communication, better known by its acronym ISIC ( Founded in 1969, this is the country’s oldest institution, offering courses in Arabic and French. On average, the school welcomes around a hundred new students every year.


As far as media education is concerned, apart from the awareness-raising actions carried out by UNESCO in Morocco since 2012, through “Media Literacy Week”, national players are still slow to give concrete expression to their commitments in this area, notably through the introduction of this subject into national education curricula. For the time being, there are no media education programs in Moroccan school curricula.