Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Arabic Stations Compete for Attention

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Arabic Stations Compete for Attention

Arabic Stations Compete for Attention
by Neil MacFarquhar
Against the backdrop of the real war, another battle was shaping amongst the Arabic-speaking world of television broadcasters for an audience addicted to news. During that time Aljazeera was the news station that dominated against the smaller and newer channels that were challenging its grip on Arab viewers. Aljazeera was a satellite station based in Qatar, and its broadcast had far more graphic pictures than any other network.
Many critics argued that Aljazeera was affecting the Arab’s public opinion to a degree never reached before. Sawsan Shair (as probably many others), said that when she wanted to drown out harsh reality she would tune into the pro-American Kuwait channel, but when she wanted her blood pressure to go up, she would then watch Aljazeera, because they always inserted their point of view.
Arabic networks were sympathetic to the Americans call of conflict of war for liberation. In the other hand, Aljazeera called it an invasion. They had fewer interviews if any with Iraqis happy to see Americans. Aljazeera reported that American officials “claim” while Iraqis officials “say”. Some viewers complained that Aljazeera rarely mentions Iraqi military casualties.
Then in the Aljazeera network if the anchor was interviewing a person and this person did not agree with their point of view, he would cut him off the air. An example given in the article was when a figure of Iraqi opposition tried to say that all the violence going on was a legacy of Saddam Hussein’s decades of tyranny. The general manager of Aljazeera said that they were not with or against any party or any country.
The Abu Dhabi TV was another satellite channel that sometimes got the latest news before Aljazeera, which made some viewers turn back and forth between both channels. The difference from Abu Dhabi TV and Aljazeera is that the anchor from Abu Dhabi TV rarely interrupts speakers and its promotional slogan is “On the Front Line” compared with Aljazeera’s “War in Iraq”.
The Western networks have largely avoided showing the gruesome scenes of Iraqi civilian casualties, focusing more on military hardware and analysis. However, Arab viewers particularly accused them for fielding many correspondents lacking any sense of religion.
            According to the article, the Aljazeera station comes under harsh criticism from Arab governments. In Syria, the government views Aljazeera as insufficiently antiwar. “They may speak Arabic, but they are not reporting from an Arab perspective that takes a clear stand against the war” said Buthaina Shaaban, director of foreign media at he Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The impact that these networks have in the Arab populations is huge. Arab viewers can be fiercely partisan. After watching pictures of their country being bombed, some Iraqis decide to return and fight despite their dislike of Saddam Hussein. Some Iraqis became overwhelmed by anger when they saw reports of civilians that were killed. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians identify with the Iraqis because they too have been attacked with a vast arsenal of American-made weapons. In Ramallah, protesters chanted against a new Dubai-based network for reporting that reflected the initial American line that the Iraqi government was collapsing. The Arab networks mostly accepted the American military version of the events at first, but suspicions grew after word came out that some officials were killed but it proved untrue. 

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