A new (Maghreb) female touch in Berlusconi`s Nessma TV

Mamnou` al-rijal (Forbidden to men) is a fascinating title for a new TV show. Especially if it`s for a women`s programme.

Fashion, beauty, glamour, interior design, jewellery, “cool” housekeeping: these are the issues that the new and modern North African woman should take care of, according to Tunis-based Nessma TV who launched the show on Dec, 14.A short promo is available on the channel home page, featuring the charming host Kaoutar Boudarajja dressed in a sexy outfit and promoting the show with a mix of North African Arabic and French.

Kaoutar will be not alone in hosting the first show ever which addresses to “the world of contemporary Maghreb women” as Nessma TV director Nabil Karoui has declared. She will be joined by other four anchorwomen from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria “who will invite in each episode art and media celebrities to discuss questions of particular interest and concern to women of the Maghreb”.

Karoui has stressed the fact that Mamnou` al-rijal will “focus on the rosy and positive side of Maghreb women, because the street is full of negative aspects”

Not going so far in time, in August 2009, that`s exactly what Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister and one of the owner of Nessma TV, had declared during his exclusive interview with the station in the occasion of its launch. A “moderate” TV station, appealing to the “Greater Maghreb” with light entertainment, lifestyle programmes, talk shows. Berlusconi invented Italian commercial TV in late 70s winning over an audiences once “under exclusive public TV monopoly” , so he knows very well what he is talking about. One of the host of the exclusive interview at the time asked him if “Nessma TV can change Maghreb just as you changed Italy”. Well, after slightly more than one year of broadcast I can`t say if Maghreb has been changed by Nessma, but certainly  Nessma has been stick to its original mission.

The style of its programmes, the language it is using (a “chic” mixture of French and North African Arabic), the faces who have become its testimonials -like Kaoutar herself who is also hosting the shows Ness Nessma and the Maghreb version of  Berlusconi`s Canale 5″Non solo moda“- are all working towards this idea of globalised, trendy and consuming-friendly “moderated” audience.

It is very hard to say that this is just television, at least when the partners involved in the business are people like Berlusconi, Franco-Tunisian media mogul Tarek Ben Ammar and (indirectly) Lybian leader Qaddafi – his controlled company Lafitrade got a share in Ben Ammar`s Quinta Communication since June 2009– .

The story is worthy to follow. Especially since it seems that next year Lybia will have a more tangible presence on Nessma TV screens -and notably on Mamnou` al-rijal which should be starting reaching out to Lybian women more directly- . According to Lybian journalist Reem Kadouri, Nessma TV seems to enjoy high viewership in the country so far.

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