Newsletter No 7 22 November 2005
 
News from the Media Scene:
New French-Language Daily in Morocco

The Moroccan Press Group Maroc Soir launched the new evening French-language daily Maroc Soir on 10 November. The 24-pages tabloid is the fifth publication of the group.

The paper will have an initial print-run of 15,000 copies and will target a new generation of Moroccans belonging to the middle class, the generation of the internet and the digital world, according to the group’s owner, Othman El Omeir.

In the group’s electronic publication moroccotimes.com, Mehdi Harizi, the editor in chief of the new daily, said the Maroc Soir’s goal is to offer a new quality journalistic product with a rich content presented in a simple way. News and stories will be short and dynamic focusing on the basic information.

Harizi said that they will focus on social and economic topics. “There is a place in the market for a newspaper dealing with issues that touches people directly. That is why we want to keep close and listening (to readers) through an accessible newspaper easy and pleasant to read and in which readers can participate,” he said to the daily Le Matin, the main publication of the group.

The layout will include full color as well as an easy navigation system. Advertising will be offered in original formats beyond classical dimensions.

Maroc Soir will be initially distributed Monday to Friday at noon only in Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakech. It will cost 3.5 Moroccan Dirham (MAD), about 0.37 US$. The staff will include 20 journalists and five technicians.

A website that won’t be an exact copy of the printed version will be launched soon as the first step in an ambitious electronic project under development.

Maroc Soir group is the oldest press group in Morocco and publishes three other newspapers: the French-speaking Le Matin; the Arabic-language Assahra Al Magrhribia; and the Spanish-language La Mañana as well as the English-language website Morocco Times.

The Saudi businessman and journalist Othman El Omeir acquired the group in 2004 for 150 millions MAD (16 millions US$). Since then, he has followed a restructuring plan to increase the number of publications.

He has also bought a new printing press for the group while calling Moroccan publishers to establish regional printing presses as the only way to increase profitability and readership. He also decided to dismantle the group’s distribution network to rely on the two companies dominating the sector.

El Omeir was former editor of the London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper and had a close relation with Morocco’s former king, Hassan II.