The Jordanian parliament has voted down a law to set up a higher media council.
Thirty-five out of 66 deputies present at a lower house debate on Sunday voted against the council, whose creation led to the scrapping of the information ministry late last year as part of social, political and economic reforms, the press reported on Monday.
Conservative MP Karim Dughami who initiated the vote argued the creation of the higher media council and other "independent public entities" would strip the government of its ability to supervise the council's work, the press said.
Prime Minister Faisal al-Fayiz, who has headed a new government since October that does not include an information ministry, tried to win support for the council by promising to introduce a law that would allow the government to oversee the budgets of all independent public institutions.
But his words fell on deaf ears as independent, Islamist and liberal MPs from the 110-seat lower house rallied around Dughami in voting down the council and calling for the re-establishment of the information ministry.
In line with the constitution, the lower house decision will be submitted to the Senate, a 55-member body appointed by the king, which can either adopt it or reject it.
Should the Senate reject the vote, the lower house will convene again to reconsider its decision.
King Abd Allah appointed a former information minister, Ibrahim Izz al-Din, to head the 11-member council in December 2002, replacing Kamil Abu Jabir who had resigned from the post.
In a decree appointing Izz al-Din, the king insisted the council should be "consultative" body working hand in the hand with the government to develop a modern approach to state information, based on pluralism and freedom of opinion.
King Abd Allah has fully backed
the higher media body
Council members were hand picked by the king from among media experts, including many who had served on the first short-lived council board.
The council was initially set up a year earlier, by the government of former prime minister Ali Abu Raghib, under one of more than 200 temporary laws it passed in the absence of parliament.
These temporary laws have come under scrutiny by the new parliament which was elected in June 2003, and several have been booted out.