Saturday, November 04, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | Qatar | al-Jazeera TV at 10 Has Made the Arab World a Better Place

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia pays its tribute to satellite broadcaster, al-Jazeera TV on its 10th Anniversary of pan-Arab news and political coverage. Al Jazeera has made the Arab world a better place for its outspokeness.

Launched on November 1, 1996 by the Emirate of Qatar, Arabic language, satellite TV channel, al-Jazeera has steered a controversial path in the Arab world by its unabashed news coverage.

By giving on-air exposure to minority interests across the Middle East and their non-censored comments has brought al-Jazeera TV into confrontational journalistic practices with governments of all persuasions.

This has not deterred the TV network, nor, it would appear, has ruffled the ruling establishment of Qatar.

For al-Jazeera it has been onward and upward in viewership in its 10 years of TV operations. Today the TV station estimates 50 million regular viewers and its website is one of the 50 most visited in the world.

Now the English language TV channel is awaited with baited breath. Delayed by some political and technical wranglings the station is late to get to air.

Of al-Jazeera television, Reporters Without Borders says: "This satellite channel, beamed into the majority of Arab homes, took an immediate stand in opposition to traditional news broadcast by authorised media. On one hand its programmes regularly enrage Arab leaders for giving a voice to their opponents and to viewers themselves and because it raises political and social issues considered taboo in many countries in the Arab world.

"On the other hand, the US government frequently accused it of fomenting anti-American sentiment in the region and inciting violence against the US-British forces in Iraq," said the organisation.

"Numerous governments have tried to censor al-Jazeera, using financial and advertising boycotts, closing down its offices, banning it from covering major events, expulsions, arrests and deaths of its journalists, bombings of its premises and putting diplomatic pressure on Qatar. But while its outspokenness created a genuine precedent in the Arab broadcast landscape, it still rarely raises Qatar's internal issues," it added.

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia believes that most governments across the Arab world now handle media better for the work of al- Jazeera. There is still a long way to go where the average man on the street has his views heard in a more routine way but it is coming. As soon as world attention is moved away from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the presence of Western military occupations in the Middle East, is reduced the future will be brighter for radio and television broadcasting across the Middle East, Mahgreb, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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