After staying with a Moroccan family for almost a month now (wow time flies) and hearing similar things from other people, I have to say that television may be the greatest importation into the Kingdom of Morocco. Television is a very important part of Moroccan family life. It is on about 27 hours a day, or would be if there are 27 hours a day. For the times that I am with my host-family, I have only seen the TV being turned off a couple of times, only to be turned on again 5 minutes later. The TV is on during lunch and dinner (we eat in front of it). Sometimes it’s on even when no one is watching it, and quite often the 4 brothers fight for what show to watch. I heard from other people that the grandfather who lives in the house pretty much stays by the TV the entire day. I understand that TV could be addicting, but what prompt such devotion to the machine?
On a Moroccan TV, there are multiple channels you can tune into. From what I observed, religious channels (people talking about Islam, live broadcast of what Mecca looks like, singing of the Qur’an) take up about 10 channels. Our host-mom usually switch to these when she feels that there needs to be some peaceful sounds in the house. There are a few European/American channels, including BBC Arabic, France 24 (in Arabic), and National Geographic (with Arabic voice over). The Moroccan national media company operates several TV stations, with contents ranging from news, Moroccan soap opera (most likely produced by Egypt), entertainment shows, Movies, education, to sports. Several channels operated by other Arab countries can also be found, including Aljazeera (Qatar), KTV (Kuwait), KTV2 (Kuwait) and more. More recently there are also shows in Berber language, in addition to Arabic, French, and English.
With this many choices, it’s hard to not to watch TV (even though I don’t understand how they could watch TV the entire day). Many American movies are played on TV (the channel was playing a Jet Li movie marathon today), and quite a few shows for kids are taken from Disney Channel, Cartoon Network or other American channels (my little host-brother loves Tom and Jerry and Ben 10). It’s interesting to see which channel each family member switch to. My host-dad loves entertainment shows with Moroccan singers singing traditional songs with modern instruments and the news channel. My host-mom usually watches the soap opera or whatever other people are watching. The 4 brothers watch the Western channels a little bit more in addition to what their parents watch. It might be because of this, they are more familiar with many American/European ideas or things in general.
Here’s what I conclude: Moroccans have a very different attitude of life. They enjoy the time being with the family, and TV is a great accompaniment. While we may think that they spend way too much time watching TV and will probably turn into vegetables, a lot of family bonding does happen, and Moroccans really value that.