News Television in the Arabian Gulf...Period of Transitions
Television news in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) is undergoing three transitional currents. First, the Arab 24-hour news channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, are re-inventing themselves. The first is developing a raison d'étre in line with its newly realized 'global' image while the second is answering the changes in a dynamic rich business oriented society. Second, government channels are undergoing an extreme make over. Television stations in Dubai, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia are radically changing their look and feel. Third, broadcasting regulations, at least in Kuwait and the UAE, have allowed the birth of various channels dedicated to news and business. This paper attempts to answer the following questions: Are these changes merely cosmetic, affecting design and graphics? Is the legal change echoing a political stance or diffusing a social unrest? Are the changes the latest fad in a society of interrelated cultural and tribal codes? Using a combination of historical, political economy research and participant observation, this paper describes these shifts, analyzes their processes, and interprets their implications on the regional and international media landscape.
Joe F. Khalil