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05KUWAIT3057 2005-07-09 13:01:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kuwait
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1. SUMMARY: Dr. Anas Al-Reshaid, Kuwait's information
minister, said his ministry requires "restructuring" in a
July 1 interview on the sidelines of Prime Minister Shaykh
Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah's recent visit to
Washington, DC. While the term "restructuring" does not
itself suggest radical change, Al-Reshaid also said that
Kuwaitis do not need an information ministry, and said that
he had formed a committee to study the "restructuring." Al-
Reshaid also used the interview to reiterate his dedication
to a free media, and his determination to navigate through
parliament a new, media-friendly draft press and
publications law. END SUMMARY.

2. The July 1 interview with Al-Reshaid, broadcast on Al-
Hurra TV, contained some of the first public statements
made by the minister, who was appointed in April, detailing
his specific intentions for the ministry (reftel). While
Kuwaitis need access to radio and television, he said, they
do not need an information ministry. He said that a state
media monopoly has no place in a country governed by a
constitution, and that the media market must be opened for
full private sector participation.

3. Al-Reshaid said that while the state would likely
maintain a role in regulating media, the way to improve
media performance is through more freedom, greater
democracy, and better education for journalists. He said
that increased media competition, from satellite television
and, increasingly, the Internet, also meant that the
ministry needed to embrace change. He said that he had
formed a ministry committee to explore how to accomplish
the restructuring.

4. Much legislation would be required to carry out his
vision, the minister said, but stressed that his top
priority now is the passage of a draft press and
publications law. (Note: The Cabinet approved the
ministry's latest version of the draft law on June 4.
Parliament has adjourned for the summer, and will not
consider the law before the next session opens, in October.
End note.) Al-Reshaid said that the press, several members
of parliament, and several national political blocs have
approved his draft. The law, which underwent several drafts
in the last session, will determine regulations for media
ownership, outline rules under which media outlets can be
shut down, and delineate taboo topics, such as reportage
about Islam and the ruling family, and the penalties for
breaking these taboos.

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