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January 26, 2005

Comments

Avshalom Rubin

Is it just me, or does the stat for al-Manar seem a little low? What's your take on that?

the aardvark

Now that you mention it, that does seem kind of low. On the other hand, I don't recall al-Manar doing well in Cairo in any other surveys either. It does better in Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, places like that. Maybe it's a Mashriq thing? Maybe it's because of the heavy presence of Sunni salafism in Cairo, which makes them hostile towards a Shia station? Pure speculation on my part, though - it's a good question.

Dung Beetle

As a Cairene TV maven, I would say the survey should include channels viewed in resaurants to get a better picture of the people's viewing preferences. I have rarely seen a news program on at any restaurant or cafe in Cairo. Upscale establishments prefer to show the rather "risque" Fashion TV with models parading up and down the catwalk. Middle class establishments seem to prefer to tune to one of the music video channels: Mazzika, Dream, Rotana 1 or 2, and Melody. My hunch is that the actual choice of video channel is based on the preferences of the wait staff. Sporting events are also rather popular. This aspect of Cairene preferences is not adequately captured by the survey.

the aardvark

Ah yes, Fashion TV... who could ever forget "Model Flat"... like the Real World, except with supermodels!

Stacey

Since gender is another feature that might be interesting, I can offer a couple of other anecdotal observations. Consistent with the results, before the US elections, my housekeeper gave me an eloquent lesson on the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties in the US based on her (and al-Jazeera's) interpretation of the differences between the First Lady attitudes of Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, principally related to whether and how women balance family responsibilities with work outside of the home.

While I agree with Dung Beetle about the ubiquitous nature of the music video (and am fascinated by the SMS/online dating scene evident in the scrollbar at the bottom of the screen), my experience as a woman in Cairo has also given insights into the sacred space that is the hair salon. In the three hair salons in my neighborhood, each of which I have frequented at different times over the past couple of years, the standard fare is always televised news. In the nicer salon, there is al-Jazeera, while the other two rely (woefully) on Nile TV. While the news is not often discussed, it is an ever-present backdrop.

Again, these are viewing preferences outside of the home, and might not be captured by the survey. They also tell us something about the stereotypes regarding housebound and domestically-minded Arab women.

On the Sunni/Shi's component of al-Manar, I will try to post on al-Hiwar about this sometime soon. I do think the Sunni targets of al-Manar are, generally speaking, Lebanese and Syrian Sunnis, and that the station is much more successful there. Knowledge of Shi'i Islam is so low in Egypt (a student recently told me that the Shi'a are heretics because they worship 'Ali as their God and reject Muhammad) that I just don't believe al-Manar is trying to reach Egyptian viewers.

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