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AL JAZEERA AS A COUNTERFLOW ON THE GLOBAL MEDIA SCENE Tine Ustad Figenschou January 30 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "AL JAZEERA AS A COUNTERFLOW ON THE GLOBAL MEDIA SCENE Tine Ustad Figenschou January 30 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 AL JAZEERA AS A COUNTERFLOW ON THE GLOBAL MEDIA SCENE Tine Ustad Figenschou January

2 The development of satellite television in the Middle East: Arab broadcasting media have been government-owned A political struggle between Egypt and Saudi Arabia over regional influence Arabsat 1976 CNN’s coverage of the Gulf War 1991 Remarkable concentration of satellite channels in Saudi hands

3 Al Jazeera Channel BBC Arabic and Orbit clashed over editorial independence Funded by the emir of Qatar Staff: Arabs who have worked in the West Since 1999: 24-hours a day Today it employs around 750 people

4 Media freedom in the Middle East: The Middle East: “the region with least press freedom in 2003 Four taboos / ”red lines” that cannot be crossed ”Offshore democracy”? None of the Arab satellite broadcasters “break even” – financial dependencies

5 How free is Al Jazeera Channel? ”Undeclared economic boycott” GCC Still dependent on government funding - a “state-backed channel” Liberal trend in Qatar? Domestic issues are seldom a topic in the Qatari media omestic political change in Qatar may impact Al Jazeera

6 How free is Al Jazeera Channel? ”Undeclared economic boycott” GCC Still dependent on government funding - a “state-backed channel” Liberal trend in Qatar? Domestic issues are seldom a topic in the Qatari media Political change in Qatar impacts Al Jazeera

7 Challenging taboos TV-discussions of sensitive political, social, economic and religious subjects The second intifada (Palestinian uprising) Infuriated, provoked and frightened governments in the Middle East Criticised for being sensationalist, populist and speculative The Qatari government balances powers and pressures

8 Al Jazeera and the ‘war on terrorism’ A counter-flow in the global media: 1)Exclusive access to the Taliban-controlled areas 2) Exclusive tapes of Osama bin Laden and other Al- Qaeda-members 3) Showing images of civilian casualties Al-Qaeda: sophisticated and professional media campaign Tayseer Alouni sentenced to jail September 2005 US Authorities: put pressure on the Qatari government US broadcasters flew to Doha

9 War in Iraq: The Arab perspective Most media-covered war USA: warned, criticised and pressured Al Jazeera: 1) Images of dead and wounded US soldiers and overestimating US losses 2) A propaganda tool for the Iraqi authorities, 3) Inciting Arab public opinion by showing graphic images of civilian casualties Systematic analysis: framing and sources

10 Frames: The Iraqi heroes frame The humanitarian catastrophe frame The liberation frame The peace activist frame

11 Relations on the ground: Level of killings of journalists: unprecedented 16 dead journalists and media staff Al Jazeera staff experienced several attacks from the Coalition forces Double pressure: Attacked by Iraqi Officials

12 The attack on Al Jazeera’s Baghdad bureau: April Correspondent Tariq Ayoub was killed and cameraman Zouhair Nadhim was injured US: Responded to enemy fire The attack has not been investigated Reports: unintentional, but equally, avoidable

13 Implications of the attack: Top level of the US government must bear some responsibility Feeling Al Jazeera: Attacked because of critical reporting Feelings of being under attack are passed on to the viewers

14 The struggle for the Arab heart and mind: Increased US presence on Al Jazeera Public diplomacy “Carrot and the stick” The US administration’s contradictory policies have led to scepticism on the part of Arab media, and fuelled widespread Arab beliefs about American double standards


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