February 17, 2008
Whither Arab Sats? The 'Arab' (authoritarian dinos) broadcasting code
The Financial Times worthy article on Al Jazeerah's response to the Mubarek led censorship drive is worthy of some reflexion.
The key portion of the so-called media code is:
“The commitment to freedom of expression is a main cornerstone of Arab media activity, provided that the practice of this freedom should be informed by a sense of awareness and responsibility in order to protect the higher interests of Arab states and of the Arab nation,”
Of course the Arab states "higher interests" (never mind the polite outdated fiction of the 'Arab Nation') really means the interests of the dictators to provide turgid non-news. Now, taking Morocco as an example, with a relatively free-ish media under a media code that is perhaps nearly as potentially cretinous, it is true that application is as important as a law (above all in circumstances as obtain in MENA were law is more an expression of potential intent than binding law). But effects?
I suspect none, unless Qatar has decided to change its policy. Sign the code and ignore it, like any good Arab League piece of paper.
However, if pursued, online broadcasting and a boost to off-shore efforts. The American Arabic channel, the French plans, etc.
In business terms, there might emerge a business opportunity in the online space, out of reach in general of the Arab states.
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I'm not sure it changes much. The largest factor on the freedom of satellite channels is the state of Qatar-Saudi relations, Al Jazira being the only satellite channel of importance not to be in Saudi hands. The rest is litterature.
As for the American Arabic channel, I can't see it flying, for evident reasons. And then you mention the French channel: well, nice thought, but Sarkozy recently veighed in that it had to broadcast only in French...
In legal terms, the agreement wil not change anything. Arab League member states are already free to impose the restrictions they wish on Al Jazeera journalists operating on their territory. Restrictions on Al Jazeera headquarters depend on the whim of the Qatari ruler.
Much ado about nothing I'd say!
Posted by: Ibn Kafka at February 22, 2008 11:45 AM
Has the BBC Arabic service (TV) started broadcasting yet?
Posted by: Tom Scudder at February 22, 2008 07:35 PM
Huh, euronews is putting together a 24-hour Arabic channel. How odd. That makes the US, UK, France, Russia, and the EU all with their own (at least notional) arabic-language tv news channels.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at February 22, 2008 07:42 PM
I do believe I said something somewhat similar to your note. I suspect none, unless Qatar has decided to change its policy. Sign the code and ignore it, like any good Arab League piece of paper.
But the question arising is, is there any sign of a change in policy in Qatar, seems to blow hot and cold.
Regarding Al Hurra, well, never say never mate.
Under the Bush Ibn Bush Admin, of course the Right Bolsheviks will prevent it from being in any way useful.
Nonetheless, Administrations change, and should say Qatar decide to make nice with Saudiyah, one could see an opening. Could Al Hurrah rescue itself, under professional management from Right Bolshy supported Leb Maronite Phalangist irrelevancy? Possible, although hard. Only can happen in an enviro I suggested, if the big sats blew their collective reps.
The Euronews is very interesting. Already much watched in English and French, might actually have a real chance - although they are really like CNN Headline News Int'l was in the late 80s, less a full blown news channel.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 24, 2008 07:09 AM
Posted by: dubaiwalla at March 3, 2008 04:34 PM
On Arab satellites: who/what owns/supports the ANB channel?
Posted by: alle at March 4, 2008 01:16 AM