« What I read today: Egypt | Main | Pollock reads the Turkish media, or somebody does... »

February 27, 2005



Wouldn't an anti-Syria al-Arabiya line be consistent with Saudi ownership? Don't the Saudis support the Sunni Arab majority there?

the aardvark

I think the Sunni factor is **way** overrated by certain writers. The Saudis and the Syrian regime have plenty of their own reasons for fighting politically, not least of which is the evolving Saudi-American relationship and the devolving Syrian-American relationship, along with current events in Lebanon. The whole "Sunni Arab majority" thing overstates the importance of confessionalism and conceals more important strategic dynamics.

So the answer to your first question is yes: anti-Syrian line is consistent with Saudi ownership. But the answer to your second question is that I doubt this has much of anything to do with it.


The only thing that I like about Hurra is the horses promotion ad.


BTW, AA: check this out.

Al Hurra is on the march!

the aardvark

Well, I do think that Muslim immigrant populations in Europe are an important group to reach. If al Hurra is going to be useless in the Arab world it might as well be useless in Europe too.


Sorry to disagree with the Aardvark on one point, but here goes: there is no "evolving Saudi-American relationship" if by that you mean improving or growing more closely integrated. It was withering by the late 90s, the invasion of Iraq put the final nail in the coffin. The Saudis will remain polite of course (don't want to tick off the wild-eyed hillbilly who's set up camp next door after all), but they watch after their own interests first now thank you very much. The Fahd strategy of putting America before the kingdom's neighbors or even domestic challenges is gone. There's many examples one could point to, but one of the more powerful is the way in which ExxonMobil and other American firms have been frozen out of domestic gas investment while the Russians and Chinese have been invited in. Even more astonishing is that now the Indians, those who have for so long been treated so poorly as menial laborers, are now being actively invited to come in and invest in the kingdom (http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=79929).

David F.

Re Al Hurra broadcasting to Europe, they're not going to reach North African immigrants in France who only watch Arabic satellite channels. They have chosen to step away from secular French society and are hardly going to watch a channel they know to be backed by the US government. Those North Africans who do want 'free speech and open debate' can find it on TF1 or France 2 and don't even need a dish. And Al Jazeera is much more diverse in its range of opinions than the North African fundamentalist channels they used to watch.

The US government doesn't seem to have grasped that, unlike with eastern Europe during the Cold War, they are not broadcasting to a populace starved of information. As I'm sure the Aardvark has discussed at length, Al Hurra is competing against slick, populist, commercially-minded channels that are giving audiences what they want rather than what Uncle Sam thinks is good for them. It's ironic that the US should have such difficulty dealing with this outbreak of free-market capitalism.


Or maybe American capitalist media instincts are precisely to blame for the debacle. The old school of cold war broadcasting was based on a good, but rather subtle idea (considering whose head it needs to be gotten through): you don't compete with propaganda by stronger propaganda -- or now with populism by better populism. You create a niche. In keeping with the times, American-sponsored East-European services are currently being retooled from something resembling NPR or Radio France Culture to go head-to-head with the new talk media, against which they don't stand an icecube's chance in Basra. What can one do? Not much more than making it a squeakier wheel, I guess.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Blog powered by Typepad