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  • #31


    Arab Television Today by Naomi Sakr (France)

    (Publication date October 20, 2007)

    Arab Television Today by Naomi Sakr (U.K.)

    (Publication date October 20, 2007)

    Arab Television Today by Naomi Sakr (U.S.A.)

    (Publication date December 10, 2007)

    "There is a great deal at stake for everyone in the future of Arab television. Political and social upheavals in this central but unsettled region are increasingly played out on television screens and in the tussles over programming that take place behind them. "Al-Jazeera" is of course only one player among a still-growing throng of satellite channels, which now include private terrestrial stations in some Arab states. It is an industry urgently needing to be made sense of; this book does exactly this in a very readable and authoritative way, through exploring and explaining the evolving structures and content choices in both entertainment and news of contemporary Arab television. It shows how owners, investors, journalists, presenters, production companies, advertisers, regulators and media freedom advocates influence each other in a geolinguistic marketplace that encompasses the Arab region itself and communities abroad. Probing internal and external interventions in the Arab television landscape, the book offers a timely and compelling sequel to Naomi Sakr's "Satellite Realms: Transnational Television, Globalization and the Middle East", which won the Middle Eastern Studies Book Prize in 2003."

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    • #32
      October 23, 2007 -- It's about to lose the right to broadcast CNN in Israel, but the country's largest cable provider appears to have found a replacement: Al-Jazeera in English.

      A contract with the controversial Gulf-based news network "should be finalized within a few days," a senior representative of HOT Television told The Jerusalem Post Monday. Should the deal be signed, it will put Al-Jazeera's English-language offshoot on the air around the time HOT drops CNN, said Yossi Lubaton, the company's vice president of marketing.

      The announcement marks the latest programming shake-up by the cable provider, whose subscribers make up nearly two-thirds of Israel's cable and satellite audience. Both HOT and its main competitor, Yes Television, already offer Al-Jazeera in Arabic, and Yes added Al-Jazeera's English channel last year.

      The removal of CNN and the addition of Al-Jazeera's English version both stemmed from financial considerations, Lubaton said, describing the changes as part of a cost-cutting campaign launched last year by HOT CEO David Kamenitz.

      "It's an economic issue," Lubaton said. "Most of the internationally famous news channels - Sky News, the BBC and Fox - for all of them the cost is significantly lower than CNN. [The move] to introduce Al-Jazeera in English comes at a much lower cost than CNN."

      Though HOT is prepared to cut ties with CNN at the end of the month, Lubaton distanced the company from statements released last week that appeared to question CNN's competitiveness as a news organization, and which drew attention to the channel's drop in the American ratings race behind Fox. "We are not arguing that CNN is not one of the leading news channels in the world, that CNN is not a good news channel," Lubaton said.

      But, he added, "We believe that the other news channels are sufficient to satisfy subscribers' news demand."

      That position is debatable, however, at least as it relates to the arrival of Al-Jazeera's English version, said Prof. Tamar Liebes, head of the Hebrew University's Communications Department.

      "Even to think of it as a replacement is a joke," Liebes said, adding that few Israeli viewers would be inclined to "trust" the channel's coverage of international affairs. Al-Jazeera's Arabic network, which broadcast videotapes featuring Osama bin Laden soon after the September 11, 2001, attacks, has been criticized for what some call its anti-American and anti-Israel news coverage.

      "It's incomprehensible," Liebes said. "Whatever functions CNN performed, none of them will be performed by Al-Jazeera. It's a whole different kind of person who will watch."

      The channel has remained the international news leader in Israel, said Hagit Mendes, a spokeswoman for the network here. Her comments were echoed by Liebes, who named the network one of two channels Israelis turn to for coverage of breaking news stories overseas.

      Asked about her channel's imminent eclipse in Israel by Al-Jazeera in English, Mendes declined to comment.

      "We have issues with HOT, not with other channels," she said. "We welcome another international news channel. It's a good thing to have as many channels as possible in a democratic society."

      Comment


      • #33
        what Israel drops al CNN for Al jazeera ? Ah I see , they ll be saving money in this decision , and al Jazeera covers most world issues anyway .
        Friendship

        [60:8] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable.

        [60:9] GOD enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are the transgressors

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        • #34
          December 16, 2007 -- November 2007 marks the first year anniversary of the official launch of the English language offshoot of the outspoken and often controversial Middle Eastern broadcaster Al Jazeera. Although the exact date of the launch of the English language channel is fairly unlikely to be remembered, much less commemorated, the fact that both critics and supporters of al Jazeera are likely to agree on is that during the year since its inception, Al Jazeera English has shaken up, if not revolutionized the realm of twenty four hour news broadcasting in English, for not one but multiple reasons.

          Al Jazeera's original Arabic language channel has, in its decade long existence been a thorn in the side of many in positions of authority. The lively debates on Al Jazeera that provided a platform for dissidents and intellectuals, the in depth reporting on the weaknesses and shortcomings of the governments of the Middle East that had hitherto remained a virtual taboo subject on the state controlled media, the open and candid exposure of rampant corruption and human rights abuses, all proved too much for many an Arab government. The television station, credited widely with putting the tiny but affluent Gulf state of Qatar on the radar screen, has at various points in it's history been banned or at least restricted from broadcasting in a slew of Arab states – Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, with even the government of the newly ''liberated'' Iraq at one point restricting access to Al Jazeera journalists. All bans, each controversy and every single restriction placed on the path of Al Jazeera served only to enhance it's wildly popular appeal in the Arab world – with Arab journalists provided with a level of freedom and independence that they had never tasted before, the popularity of Al Jazeera seemed to reach record heights. Freedom of speech, the independence of the media and the spirit of independent inquiry, it seemed, no longer was the monopoly of the democratic West – for once, these lofty ideals seemed to penetrate even the most traditional and socially conservative of regions.

          It may seem rather ironic and far fetched in retrospect, but the fact remains that prior to the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, Al Jazeera had even earned open admiration from Washington. The station had played host to a number of leading US politicians, from Condoleezza Rice to Donald Rumsfeld. The self styled aim of spreading freedom and democracy across the Arab world may not have been as central to the agenda of the Bush administration at the time, but in Al Jazeera Washington saw a journalistic outlet that was unafraid to question, dissect and eventually break down the taboos of a region that was ripe for political change.

          It was only during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan that the United States began to see Al Jazeera in a different light. With the horrors of the September 11 attacks fresh in the minds of many in the United States, indeed across the Western world, the human cost of the US invasion of Afghanistan, the civilian casualties sugarcoated as ''collateral damage'' – the side effects of overthrowing the reviled Taliban was a virtual taboo in the minds of many, especially, but not exclusively in the minds of Americans. Al Jazeera's coverage of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, that was unafraid and unperturbed in showing graphic images of Afghan civilian casualties may have touched a raw nerve in the minds of many, but in doing the unthinkable, Al Jazeera was, in essence, doing what it had been doing best for years – challenging the taboos, depicting the course of events, without any apparent concern for potential reprisals. In doing so, it may have done the realm of journalistic enquiry a great service – but not without a price. In November 2001, Al Jazeera's Kabul office was destroyed by a US missile strike. The station may have been down, but not quite out, and with no resulting casualties amongst its staff, the station may well have thought that it's audacity during the Afghan invasion that solidified its position as the news channel of choice for the Arab street may well have come at an acceptable price.

          But Al Jazeera's candid coverage of the Iraq invasion barely three years after Afghanistan, its determination to focus heavily on the human cost of the US invasion that contrasted diametrically from the conveniently whitewashed coverage of the mainstream US media that ''embedded'' itself with the invading forces, its interviews with critics of US, European and Arab governments alike, its broadcasts of taped messages from Osama Bin Laden, that, incidentally were mimicked by virtually every Western news organization worthy of mention, its graphic depictions of Allied casualties – in short, its determination to project the sheer reality of the headlines as known to those in the frontline of news events made it the bad boy of the journalistic world par excellence. As if the horrors of the Iraq war were not enough to put up with, television viewers the world over had to endure the unsavory sight of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fulminating against the network, bitterly attacking its coverage of the Iraq war as ''vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable''. But as cynics and critics of the Iraq war, both at the time of the invasion as well as four years on have asked, is it not the duty of professional journalists to tell their audiences about the realities on the ground, no matter how it plays in the arena of public opinion? And by depicting the human cost of the Iraq war, both to Iraqis and Allied soldiers, was Al Jazeera so deserving of such vitriolic condemnation simply for doing the journalistic duty that its Western counterparts had chosen to shirk in the name of appeasing nationalistic or at least diffident viewers back home?

          Al Jazeera did indeed pay a hefty price for its iron willed gutsiness. Its Iraq correspondent Tareq Ayyoub lost his life in a US bomb attack on its Baghdad office, a tragedy that served only to blacken the image of the US military, especially when it emerged that the Al Jazeera authorities had made it a point of informing them of it's office's exact location. A tragic error? A deliberate attempt to silence those who dared to speak the truth about the human cost of the Iraq war? Perhaps the truth will never be known, but one thing is certain – for better or worse the events of 2003 served only to cement Al Jazeera as a news organization to be reckoned with, a television station that knew no fear, and certainly no taboos. Nearly five years after the invasion of Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld may be gone, the war he helped engineer largely discredited in the eyes of US and world public opinion by the failure to find the purported weapons of mass destruction that served as an impetus for the invasion. But in what could be deemed a form of sweet revenge, the television station he vociferously vilified in front of the world's television views not only went from strength to strength, it also made inroads into the very heart of Washington's centre of power by launching an English language sister station that broadcasts the world over, from, among other places, Washington DC, its office a mere stone's throw from the White House itself.....

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          • #35
            continued.....

            Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera's sister channel has continued the tradition of fearless journalism espoused by its Arabic counterpart. A mere twelve months after its launch, it reaches, at last count, a staggering eighty million homes across five continents (interestingly with the notable exception of the US and Canada), targeting a global audience of around a billion English speakers. As the first and only non Western twenty four hour news organization, it seeks to present world affairs from a truly global perspective, as opposed to the decidedly Arab slant of its Arabic language parent company. The aims of Al Jazeera English include ''reversing the North to South flow of information'', ''setting the news agenda'' and ''fearless journalism''. To understand the mission, objective and functioning of Al Jazeera English requires an understanding of both the similarities as well as the differences between the English and Arabic stations.

            Al Jazeera English, like its Arabic counterpart strikes its viewers as being unafraid of challenging and questioning taboos, as well as providing a platform for divergent, often diametrically opposing viewpoints on air. Just as Al Jazeera's Arabic channel permitted dissidents and critics of various Arab governments to openly challenge the region's status quo, and square off those arguments with representatives of those governments, Al Jazeera English has also shown itself unafraid to provide a voice for critics of the world's powers. In recent months, guests on channel's flagship Riz Khan show (possibly the world's most open discussion forum with live viewers phoning in from across the world) have included the likes of anti war activist Cindy Sheehan, Jewish American academics that distance themselves from the US's support for Israel's occupation such as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky, critics of Pakistan's Musharraf such as former cricketer Imran Khan and representatives of Egypt's dissident Kaffiyeh movement. The views of such individuals that are allowed an opportunity to question the morality of the status quo are contrasted when the station interviews spokespersons from various government, effectively allowing an opportunity for the channel's viewers to listen not only to the voices of the dissidents of the world, but also the views of the powerbrokers. The opinion and the other opinion, was the motto of Al Jazeera's Arabic station, a tradition that seems to have been carried on into its English language offshoot, albeit not in so many words.

            The pantheon of Al Jazeera English's showcase reporters may seem reminiscent of a who's who in the realm of journalism. From the United States, a nation where even the very name of Al Jazeera elicits knee jerk accusations of bias and sympathy towards terrorism comes Dave Marash, a veteran with the respected ABC network, who perhaps more than anyone else has tried to refute Al Jazeera's critics' allegation of being a terrorist mouthpiece. Josh Rushing is a former US Marine who served as a spokesperson for the Allied Command in Qatar during the 2003 Iraq invasion, whose disgruntlement with the war effort motivated him to author his memoirs titled ''Mission Al Jazeera''. Rushing may have been attacked by Fox News' Sean Hannity as a ''traitor'' for his decision to accept Al Jazeera's job offer, but in an unapologetic style worthy of an Al Jazeera determined to seek the truth, he now endeavors to tell the American side of the story to a global audience with documentaries chronicling US affairs. Neighboring Canada gifts the refreshingly sarcastic Richard Gizbert whose program Listening Post covers the exploits and transgressions of the world's media, journalists and bloggers and their coverage of world affairs. Across the Atlantic, the United Kingdom, long a bastion of journalistic stalwarts like the BBC and Sky News is home to any number of Al Jazeera's stars including CNN veterans Riz Khan and Stephen Cole, the legendary Sir David Frost whose interviewing record makes him the veritable equivalent of Larry King, Shulie Ghosh whose weekly Everywoman goes behind the scenes and beyond the headlines to highlight women's issues from the developing world. Not to mention the BBC's Baghdad correspondent during the 2003 invasion Rageh Omaar. From Down Under hail the likes of Amanda Palmer, presenter of the light hearted ''The Fabulous Picture Show'', anchorman Kamahl Santamaria and Afghanistan correspondent Dan Nolan. And in case a Middle Eastern voice was deemed lacking on a television station that was voted the fifth strongest international brand by brandchannel.com, Al Jazeera English even sports a good number of Arab journalists most notably Washington based anchorwoman Ghida Fakhry and Inside Iraq presenter Jasim Al Azzawi.

            The truly multinational, multiethnic and multicultural background of Al Jazeera English's hall of fame is certainly no accident. It is the hallmark of an Arab news network determined to shake off its ethnic image and cast itself in the mould of a truly global news network with its head in the global village even if its roots are decidedly Middle Eastern. An international brand with an Arab heritage that it chooses to build on, and yet seek not to be defined by. Al Jazeera English may mark the coming of age of a station vilified by its critics as ''Terror TV'' – the voice not of the Arab street whose grievances were dismissed, ignored and maligned as extremist but rather of the global perspective of news events that includes, but does not limit itself to the points of view of the Arab/Muslim/developing worlds.

            By allowing Arab dissidents and anti establishment figures who were not afraid to challenge the region's entrenched system of power, Al Jazeera trailblazed a tradition of open enquiry and free expression in a region starved of both. By allowing the voices of the activists, critics and opponents of the world's rulers an opportunity to air their contentions and grievances, Al Jazeera English may well prove a pioneer for a development at least equally if not even more exciting - the legitimization of the point of view of millions, perhaps billions of denizens of the so called Third World, who for decades have had their voices and opinions ignored by the world's media and press, centered as it has been in the global North. Al Jazeera gave a voice to Arab dissidents who were dissatisfied by the state of affairs in their respective societies. Al Jazeera English seeks to amplify the voices of millions of people across the developing world whose issues, problems and concerns have been silenced by the indifference of the power brokers who call the shots in today's day and age. What Al Jazeera English tries to convey is the message that the points of view of the dispossessed, the voiceless, the downtrodden, the underdogs no longer deserve to be dismissed as irrelevant or even for that matter, mindless extremism. And whatever the degree of success of the entire Al Jazeera enterprise in the future, one thing remains clear - the voice of the other that Al Jazeera has successfully endeavored to legitimize will be silenced by neither bans nor bombs.

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            • #36

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              • #37

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                • #38

                  March 6, 2011 -- As the Arab world reels with revolutions fomented in part online, Al Jazeera English is planning a new talk show that has social networking at its heart. It’s just lucky timing, says Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, the voluble young producer and co-host of the show called “The Stream” which is scheduled to appear on the English language version of Al Jazeera starting in May. The video above is a teaser for the show, which has been in the works since late last year. But as Africa and the Middle East see revolutions organized in part via Facebook (and dating sites) and publicized via Twitter and YouTube, the concept looks prescient.

                  The core idea of “The Stream” is that it’s not scripted in the ordinary way. Rather than give the hosts a script, typed rundown, or teleprompter cues, the producers will make extensive use of tweets, Facebook wall posts, and YouTube videos from their most engaged viewers and the web at large. That’s not to say it will be crowdsourced — producers are still making decisions about what topics to cover — but it will be deeply informed by an ongoing conversation with its viewers online. “Inherently it is a show that would not exist without these kinds of users,” says Shihab-Eldin.

                  They’re even considering “scripting” the show with Storify, a utility that makes it easy to assemble tweets into narratives. The idea is to reach a younger, more plugged-in audience than most news talk shows. That audience is sophisticated about social networking tools, however, and can quickly detect if Twitter updates (for instance) are merely being used as window-dressing for more traditional news approaches. Instead, “The Stream” aims to be a show that is born out of online activity. In addition to its website, the show has a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and a collection of Storify-based news stories. And while the show is just half an hour a day, the producers expect their online channels to be active around the clock online. In other words, the talk show is a focal point for a 24/7 online community, rather than making the website a merely promotional vehicle for the show.

                  During the course of the show, they’ll read tweets and updates (and display them on-screen) as they come up. They’re also planning on interviewing guests via Skype — connection quality issues be damned. In a screen test we saw at the Wired offices recently, the hosts bantered with each other and with in-studio guests, but also responded to viewers’ @ replies, played YouTube videos, and Skyped with social media mavens around the world. The studio was liberally sprinkled with monitors, and the show frequently cut to fullscreen tweets while the hosts read the 140-character updates out loud, hash tags and all. “We’re very much going to be relying on what people are talking about,” says Shihab-Eldin.

                  “The Stream” will hit the airwaves just as its parent network sees a remarkable surge of interest online, particularly in America. Al Jazeera has seen a 2,500% increase in web traffic in recent weeks, 60% of which is coming from the U.S. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a fan of the network, which she says offers “real news, instead of a million commercials and arguments between talking heads.” And as it has grown, Al Jazeera has proven savvy about embracing the kinds of grass-roots, new-media news production that “The Stream” centers on. Indeed, the producers of the show see it as a kind of test bed for the integration of video and online — and if it works, they hope their techniques will be adopted throughout the network. “We’d kind of secretly love to be outdated in a year,” says Ben Connors, the show’s creative strategist and web guy.

                  Al Jazeera is not the only network to capitalize on social media: CNN displays tweets and YouTube videos too. But “The Stream”, by putting social networking at its core, is aiming for a different way of making the news — and a different purpose. “The democratization of the Arab world is directly related to the democratization of the media,” says Shihab-Eldin in the Storyboard podcast above(within link). “It’s not just about organizing protests … there are so many different ways in which social media is used to connect people across borders, but also to connect old media with new media, to fight the battle, to fight oppression.” That’s the world that “The Stream” wants to flow through. When the show starts in a few months, we’ll be able to see if it lives up to the promise.

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                  • #39

                    April 3, 2011 -- While many Americans are flocking to Al Jazeera English to get a different account of the tumult in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and elsewhere in the Middle East, most of these viewers have to go online to do so. While Cambridge Community Television, to its credit, recently announced that it will begin airing an hour-long news broadcast from Al Jazeera English on weeknights, the network isn’t offered by the vast majority of American cable carriers. It’s time for this to change. One reason cable companies have been shy about carrying the channel is that its parent, the Qatar-based Arabic-language network Al Jazeera, has had a touchy relationship with the U.S. government. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the station’s coverage of the war in Iraq “vicious, inaccurate, and inexcusable,’’ while the network blamed the American military for intentionally targeting journalists after a 2003 strike on a Baghdad hotel killed an Al Jazeera correspondent. But this relationship has softened under President Obama, and last month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded the network for its coverage during a Senate committee hearing. Clinton is right: Through its coverage of recent unrest in Arab countries, and through its efforts to hire veteran correspondents from mainstream American and British news organizations, Al Jazeera has shown that it intends to be a vital source of news from a pivotal region of the world. Yes, the network has a point of view — its coverage tends to be skeptical both of non-democratic rulers in the Middle East and North Africa, and of American involvement in the region. But many Americans share this same viewpoint, and even for those who don’t the network can be deeply informative. As premium cable packages run into the hundreds of channels, including stations devoted narrowly to soccer, animal shows, or jewelry, there’s surely room for Al Jazeera English. Cable viewers in Cambridge won’t have to go to YouTube or the Al Jazeera website to see the channel (for an hour a night, at least). Other Americans deserve the same opportunity.

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