Reaching the Arab world
CBC News Online | May 6, 2004
A quick look at some influential Arab media outlets:
Perhaps the best known in the West -- and the most controversial -- the satellite television network is headquartered in Qatar and funded by its government. It has been referred to as the CNN of the Arab world.
The network was founded in 1996 and was the idea of the emir - the absolute monarch of the tiny kingdom. He wanted to modernize his country and al-Jazeera was part of the plan. Its equipment and most of its journalists came from the BBC after it closed down its Arabic-language division. To get them to sign up, the emir had to make one simple promise: no government censorship.
Al-Jazeera was thrown out of Bahrain for covering anti-American demonstrations. Jordan gave it the boot for revealing that King Hussein, who died in 1999, had taken money from the CIA. Saudi Arabia not only kicked out al-Jazeera for doing critical stories on the royal family, it banned Saudi companies from advertising on the network.
"It's not just news coverage," says Rick MacInnes-Rae, host of CBC Radio's foreign affairs program Dispatches. "In fact, the public opinion shows are far more unusual and controversial, public opinion not being something encouraged in the Middle East. There is The Opposite Direction, the single most popular and controversial talk show in the Middle East today. It's something akin to CNN's Crossfire."
Launched in February 2003, this Dubai-based satellite-TV channel has also attracted a lot of attention. It is consistently ranked among the top pan-Arab stations by Middle East audiences. The United States regards it with the same suspicion as it does al-Jazeera.
In November 2003, the U.S.-installed governing council in Iraq banned the network's reporters from reporting from Iraq for "inciting murder." The network came under fire for airing an audiotape claiming to be the voice of Saddam Hussein, which called on Iraqis to revolt against the U.S. The governing council said it would reconsider the ban if the news operation writes a letter pledging to never "encourage terrorism."
Al-Arabiya rejected the allegation that its broadcast incited murder, and insisted its news coverage was "objective and precise."
Set up and paid for by the United States. The goal of this network is to counter what Washington sees as negative coverage of the Middle East by al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya.
The station offers a mix of international news, documentaries, and talk shows.
It was widely condemned by Arab commentators as a thinly disguised American plot to brainwash Arabs.
Other notable news outlets:
State television network, which is widely available in the Arabic-speaking world.
al-Watan (The Nation) newspaper
al-Sharq (The East) newspaper
The success of Qatar-based TV outlet al-Jazeera has brought attention to these two Qatar-based newspapers. Websites are in Arabic only.
London-based Arabic-language newspaper.
al-Ahram (The Pyramid)
Based in Cairo, al-Ahram is the oldest Arab daily paper in the world. It has been published since August 1876. The paper describes itself as a "forum for expressing the views and ideas of leading Arab intellectuals and opinion-makers, and through which they could convey the concerns and aspirations of the great Arab nation."
Also available as an English language weekly
English-language print media
The Cairo Times
A weekly magazine and one of the few human rights oriented publications in the region.
The Middle East Times
Another English-language weekly based in Egypt.
The Khaleej Times
English-language daily from the United Arab Emirates