A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘television’ Category

taking the “advertising cake”: today’s Arab satellite channels

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 15, 2009

I’m not a big television watcher: I don’t even own a television. But I do watch the television industry – particularly that in the Arab world. This weekend, The National, Abu Dhabi’s well-funded English-language newspaper, published a very interesting piece on the current state of the Arab satellite television industry.

Here’s the article, with commentary:

ABU DHABI // Despite losing billions of dollars every year, many Arab satellite television channels continue to operate because their purpose is to push political agendas, a recent report says.

[I’m not sure about the idea that each of these channels is meant to advocate a political agenda. There are all kinds of channels on air: real estate channels, “environment” channels, children’s channels, music video/sms channels, movie channels, etc. I agree that most are not economically viable – but this doesn’t mean that all are operated for political reasons. Some seem to be more vanity channels than anything else – a sign of the owner’s wealth, or philanthropic outlook, or cultural orientation, or technological hipness, or … the list is endless. After all, who knows what someone rich enough to bankroll a satellite channel might want out of it – the delightful variety of buying something other than another sports car?]

There are 510 Arab satellite channels operating at a cost of nearly US$6 billion (Dh22bn) a year, according to the report from the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.

[Wow. in 2007, if I remember correctly, there were just over 300 channels. That’s a growth of 100 channels per year in the past two years – two years dominated by a major economic crisis. It might also help to think of this comparatively. The Arab world has an estimated 2009 population of nearly 340 million – which means that there is one channel for approximately 670,000 viewers. The United States has an estimated 2009 population of 304 million, which would mean by extension that we would under the Arab model have more than 450 channels. But our channels are meant to be profitable – and profits for them require viewerships in the millions.]

The combined annual revenue of those channels is less than $700 million, the report said.

[Wow, again. Operating costs: $6 billion. Revenues: $700 million. That’s an annual operating deficit of $5.3 billion. Even taking out the operating costs borne by state channels, think of how many sports cars and other luxury items that money could buy for these stations’ owners. The intangible benefits of station ownership must be very, very compelling.]

“That clearly means there are a number of satellite channels that are able to continue broadcasting despite their losses for more than 18 years,” said Ali Jaber, the dean of the Mohammed Bin Rashid School For Communication in Dubai.

“It also means that those who fund those channels despite their losses are governments and businessmen who have political pursuits.”

[Ummm. Here’s where we differ. I do agree that the clear non-viability of these channels means that they are being bankrolled by people who are indifferent to the cost – including governments running national channels. But I do not agree that all the private channels must be run for political gain – and I don’t think that Jaber has made his case for this argument.]

However, many of the channels have been unable to achieve the social and political change they had hoped for, researchers found.

“It’s true the number of channels has doubled and the quality of programmes has developed,” said Dr Mohammed Ayesh, a communications professor at Sharjah University.

“But the bigger question is how much they have contributed to political progress and cultural development. That is something that is still far out of reach.”

[Is that the standard by which television channels should be judged? I think there has been an elision here, between American and European ideas of public, non-profit channels and Arab-world channels that de facto bleed money. We do not ask whether NBC or HBO aid Americans’ political progress, or enhance our cultural development. I’m not sure that this is a fair standard to put on Arab-world channels.]

He said many channels were a source of cultural confusion because their programmes were not in harmony with the social norms of the Arab community.

[This is an interesting, but somewhat different issue.]

The report, which was published in the latest issue of Future Horizons magazine, found that Arab satellite channels account for two per cent of global advertising spending.

Most of that revenue, 95 per cent, is collected by fewer than 10 per cent of the channels.

[Advertising rates are incredibly low throughout the region, including print as well as broadcast media. I think these statistics show two things: that there are some highly viable channels broadcasting today, and that the others either have too few viewers to attract advertisers or do not make an effort to attract them.]

But the goal of many satellite channels is not to earn revenue, but to attract viewers to serve political agendas, Mr Jaber said.

“The advertising cake is known and its value is, at most, US$700 million annually, which is shared among the main networks, with small amounts left for small channels that revolve around the main ones,” he said.

[Um. First, I love the translation of “pie” as “cake”. Second: $700 million was the amount listed above as the total channel revenues. If this is the same number, I would like to know why other revenue streams – including mid-2000s revenue darling sms scrolls – have been excluded.]

Ahmad Abdul Malik, a Qatari writer and a founder of Sharjah TV, said many Arab satellite channels failed to attract large audiences because they lacked quality programming and were seen as propaganda outlets for governments and other groups. “I think the Arab official satellite channels have been obsolete,” he said. “And I can list more than 16 official satellite channels that no one in the Arab World would want to watch because they lack the basics of television operation, and they were established for political propaganda.”

Mr Malik said only a few private channels attracted large audiences because they “deviate from the ways of the official propagandistic channels”.

The rest, he said, either claimed to be independent when they were really official “to the very core” or called for sectarianism and indecency.

[This man says quite a lot. There is a quality issue: many channels simply buy older, already-broadcast content, generally from the U.S.. People still refer to Friends, for example. There is also an issue of blatantly propagandistic channels, often also sporting poor-quality productions – like Al Hurra :D. I think his statement about what channels people choose not to watch needs to be parsed a bit further: channels people do not watch because their content is bad or not interesting, and channels people do not watch because they disagree with their political line.]

Mohammed al Mashnooq, another media expert, said channels had fallen into the “hands of governments” because they lacked clear media strategies. TV channels that met the demands of genuine democratic change, transparency and freedom were the ones that would flourish, he said.

[I like Al Mashnooq’s optimistic viewpoint, but again, I’m not sure that television channels should be expected to do all this.]

The report found that despite current losses, some advertising experts were predicting an increase in spending in this sector, because of the growing number of channels and a larger, more active advertising market.

Between 2004 and 2007, according to Arab Consultants Group, the number of Arab satellite channels grew by 270 per cent.

The number of channels owned by the private sector increased by 56, music channels increased by 54 and channels owned by governments increased by 38.

There are now 1,100 satellite channels registered in the Arab world, but only 510 are operational, broadcasting from three satellites: ArabSat, NileSat and NourSat.

[Goodness. 1,100 channels? I can’t even imagine.]

Some of the more popular channels are Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar; and Al Arabiya and MBC, which are based in Saudi Arabia but broadcast from Dubai.

[These are popular channels – actually, networks, with each having one flagship and several subsidiary channels. But Al Jazeera has historically had a very difficult time getting advertising – other than ads from Qatari state companies, that is. And I’m not sure that Arabiya does all that much better. MBC is the only network I see with a fully articulated economic model that pushes for a sizable advertising revenue stream.]

The UAE hosts 22 per cent of Arab satellite channels, the most of any country in the region.

[And most of these are Saudi-owned. Again – a very, very interesting article, about a complex, engaging topic.]

You can read the article, sans commentary, here.

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Posted in advertising, Arab world, Arabic, economics, television | Leave a Comment »

stolen dreams, Bahraini-style

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 12, 2009

Sometimes I miss having a television. When I do, its not the long waits on Verizon’s customer service line that come to mind (or at least, not with any fondness!). What I remember are the curiously entertaining monthly visits from my grey-market satellite tv provider in Beirut.

I thought of those days again this morning, when this snippet from AME Info caught my eye:

The head of Orbit Showtime Middle East said illegal satellite users outnumber legitimate subscribers in Bahrain by five to one, forcing the company to ‘fight for its survival’, Gulf Daily News has reported. Marc-Antoine d’Halluin said the extent of illegal Dreambox usage is so severe that it has prompted the company to take a more hands-on approach to protecting its intellectual property rights. ‘There is no larger challenge for Orbit Showtime than to protect our business and to ensure that our product is not stolen via users of the Dreambox,’ he told the paper.

Yes, yes. I do understand the difficulties that illegal satellite usage poses to Orbit’s bottom line. But part of me smiled, thinking: Bahrain sounds like a place I could get into :).

Posted in Bahrain, Beirut, television | Leave a Comment »

when “international opportunity” knocks …

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 2, 2009

One of the nice things about having nice friends in a bad economy is their willingness to email around news of any forthcoming job opportunity. I am (happily!) still gainfully employed, but I appreciate each opportunity to be part of a chain of virtue – passing job postings on to those who might be looking.

So for those of you who might be in the market for a real fixer-upper of a job, and are eager to spend a bit more time in Dubai, this job might be for you. (And if you aren’t familiar with MBN, scroll down to see what semi-popular radio station and total-disaster television channel you would be responsible for resurrecting before you ready your resume :).)

International Opportunity

Television Center Management

Director, Dubai Production Center

The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN) is seeking an experienced television professional to serve as Center Director of our broadcasting facility in Dubai U.A.E. This is a non-editorial position.

The Dubai Production Center Director has overall responsibility for the management of television and radio production operations at MBN’s Dubai Production Center and is MBN’s representative in the UAE. This individual will manage all aspects of the Center’s television and radio production operations to meet MBN’s programming requirements including:

· Oversee daily technical operations as well as the implementation of approved technical projects, upgrades, and equipment installations.


· Lead the Dubai Center staff; ensure compliance with MBN practices, production standards, and procedures.

· Manage operational plans, work flows and resource requirements. Manage spending for Center operations within prescribed budgets.

· Communicate changes in local conditions that affect operations to senior management.

· Represent MBN to visiting officials and dignitaries.


· Work with the Branch Manager to ensure administrative operations adequately meet Center requirements, developing budgets, staff plans, and organizational structures.


· Assist with on-site management of human resource and other administrative management issues.


The Center Director is responsible for building and maintaining positive business relationships, including liaison with the US Embassy in the U.A.E and Consulate in Dubai and must be able to negotiate and manage in a multi-cultural environment.


This is an exciting opportunity for a television broadcast professional with production or business operations experience.


The successful candidate will have a 4 year college degree and have strong strategic, analytical and general management skills honed through at least 10 years of experience in television business or production operations.


If you are a leader with a proven ability to provide structure and oversight with experience integrating new technology into operations, we invite you apply!

MBN is a Washington, DC. based international multi-media broadcasting corporation broadcasting television and FM /AM radio news and information in Arabic to the 22+ Arabic speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa as well as to Arabic speakers across Europe.

MBN offers a challenging work environment, competitive pay and excellent benefits. The selected candidate must be able to pass background check. MBN is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. Please visit our television website at www.alhurra.com and the radio website at www.radiosawa.com.


Please forward your cover letter, resume, and salary expectations to mbnjobs@alhurra.com. Please include the job title of the position in the email subject line.

Posted in advertising, Americans, Arab world, Arabic, media, radio, television | Leave a Comment »

democracy, Lebanese-style

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 7, 2009

Sorry for today’s posting, which is just a newspaper article. I’ve been on the go all day, and now must embark on a late-afternoon clean-a-thon before a friend comes over for pre-dinner tea.

Robert Worth has an article about Charbel Khalil and Duma Kratia in today’s New York Times. Its a bit heavy on the old Basmat Al Watan story, and misses some other contextual nuances, but its still a good read. And I learned something new: I never realized that Khalil is an Aouni. Go figure 🙂

EVERY weekday, Lebanon’s large and fractious cast of politicians appears on television in news conferences and speeches. And every night at 7:45 they appear all over again — only this time as rubber puppets who sing, dance and babble their way through the day’s news.

The wizard behind this nightly transformation is Charbel Khalil, a small, round-faced and very brave man of 41. His new show, “Democracy,” which first went on the air in September, is the latest in a career-long series of comedic broadsides aimed at the vanities of Lebanese politics and society.

It is not an easy profession. Mr. Khalil has been threatened more times than he can count, briefly driven into exile and forced to sit waiting for hours in the offices of offended Syrian commanders. Three years ago, after he dared to mock Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, angry young men burned tires and blocked the road to the Beirut airport, and Lebanon’s cabinet anxiously ordered the show off the air for two weeks.

Mr. Khalil shrugs it off. “We are completely free here compared with other Arab countries,” he said, sitting at a desk in his cozy, wood-paneled studio office just north of Beirut. “Nothing is forbidden for satire except the president of the republic.”

Then he adds, with faint embarrassment, “and the army. And the judges, and religious leaders. And the presidents and kings of ‘sister and neighborly countries.’ ” All these are specifically protected from public ridicule under Lebanon’s media law, he says.

Still, that leaves scores of public figures and the leaders of Lebanon’s many political parties, who appear frequently in “Democracy” and in Mr. Khalil’s signature comedy sketch show, “Basmat Watan,” which translates as “The Smile of the Nation.”

Mr. Khalil began writing for “Basmat Watan” in 1995, and earned his reputation by mocking the Syrians, who occupied Lebanon at that time. People were amazed at what he got away with, and the show was a huge hit.

“We faced problems with the Syrians, but never physical,” Mr. Khalil recalled. Once, he ran a sketch about how the Syrians never dared to respond to Israeli air raids. The Syrian president at the time, Hafez al-Assad, saw the episode and was furious. After receiving a warning, Mr. Khalil fled to Canada, but returned in a few weeks and resumed the show.

“It was an occupation — I felt I should tell people to resist,” Mr. Khalil said.

Another frequent target on the show in the early years was Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister, who was assassinated in 2005. A billionaire and a dominating presence on the Lebanese political scene, Mr. Hariri so disliked being mocked that he briefly tried to get “Basmat Watan” taken off the air, and was dissuaded only by the president at the time, Elias Hrawi, Mr. Khalil said.

But no one here can stand outside of Lebanese politics, or at least not for long. Now that the Syrians are gone, Mr. Khalil has taken sides, as he readily admits. He favors Michel Aoun, the Christian leader and former general who forged a controversial alliance with Hezbollah three years ago. Some Lebanese say that the show has suffered in recent years and that Mr. Khalil’s well-known politics make him less interesting.

He counters that he still mocks everyone — he even has a puppet of himself, which makes regular appearances on “Democracy.” Mr. Aoun and Hezbollah’s Parliament leaders are regularly ridiculed on both of his shows, but noticeably less than their rivals in the Western-allied political bloc. “I criticize them more because they are the majority in Parliament,” Mr. Khalil said of the establishment politicians. “If they lose, I will criticize the other side more.”

Although direct political satire is virtually impossible in most of the Arab world, the impulse has long thrived in more oblique and private forms. “Basmat Watan” draws on the live comedy and song performances known as chansonières, which started in Beirut theaters in the early 1960s and continue today. For centuries before that, villagers here would gather to sing “zajal” — an indigenous form of poetry that is partly improvisatory, a kind of ancient Levantine rap.

THE actors in “Basmat Watan” often break into zajals, which by tradition often include satire and plays on words. The name “Basmat Watan” is itself a play on words, with the sounds meaning both “The Smile of the Nation” and “But the Nation Died.”

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Khalil was in the studio recording an episode of “Democracy” with Jean Bou-Gedeon, an actor who has been his main collaborator and best friend for more than 20 years. They were standing under a big microphone doing the audio track for an interview about Hezbollah’s various pretexts for refusing to relinquish its weapons, one of the most volatile issues in the Middle East.

“Our national defense strategy is based on three points,” Mr. Bou-Gedeon said in Arabic, his face twisting into a dour grimace as he imitated the voice of Muhammad Raad, a Hezbollah legislator.

“Please, tell us about them,” Mr. Khalil said brightly, playing himself.

“First, yada yada yada yada yada yada our weapons,” Mr. Bou-Gedeon said, in an Arabic impression of nonsense verbiage. “Second, blah blah blah blah our weapons blah blah blah. Third, yada weapons yada yada yada yada weapons.”

“Excellent!” Mr. Khalil said. “So your national defense strategy is first, your weapons, second, your weapons, and third, your weapons?”

It is funnier if you live here.

Mr. Bou-Gedeon, a youthful 43-year-old with a thick mop of dark hair, was the actor who played Mr. Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, in the notorious 2006 episode.

“I remember that night,” Mr. Bou-Gedeon recalled. “A friend of mine in the military called me and said: ‘Are you at home? Don’t go anywhere!’ People were saying they wanted to get the writer and actor. A lot of soldiers came up and surrounded my house.”

In his dressing room, Mr. Bou-Gedeon has photographs of all the major Lebanese political leaders to help him get into character, along with an impressively diverse rack of wigs. At a visitor’s request, he does a dead-on impression of Mr. Nasrallah, complete with hand gestures. He follows it up with a famous theater director and a mincing Lebanese woman on spike heels.

MR. KHALIL and Mr. Bou-Gedeon write the material for both “Democracy” and “Basmat Watan,” along with a third principal, Claude Khalil, and some other ensemble members. It is mostly light pastiche, nowhere near as sophisticated or hard-hitting as “Saturday Night Live” or “The Daily Show,” as Charbel Khalil and his partner readily concede. They do not have the writers or the actors for that. The same is true of the comedy shows on two or three other Lebanese networks, which are mostly inspired by “Basmat Watan,” by far the longest-running show of its kind.

Mr. Bou-Gedeon becomes grim when asked about the role of comedy, and dramatic art in general, in Lebanon. Only shallow work is possible, he said, because the Lebanese are always trying to escape themselves.

“Shakespeare said, ‘Show a mirror to the people,’ ” he said. “But people do not want to see themselves here. They want an image that is false, not the truth.”

Mr. Khalil, who cites Woody Allen and Mel Brooks as two of his chief influences, concedes that satire is not a very powerful weapon in a country where politics is still largely a matter of feudal allegiance. But he seems willing to settle for making people laugh.

“When we first started, all this was new, and people resisted it,” he said. “But I discovered that people here are not so different from Europe and the United States. They accept political satire.”

Posted in Lebanon, television | Leave a Comment »

Presidential overtures: Hisham Melhem on the Arabiya interview

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 31, 2009

I hadn’t planned to write anything about the interview that President Obama gave on Arabiya this past week – for several reasons. That he would choose to give his first official news interview to an Arabic-language news channel is a wonderful first step; that he chose Arabiya – a weak, pro-Saudi channel -, and not Jazeera – the Arab world’s best, most neutral, and most professional channel -, was a huge disappointment.

Also, on a personal level, I don’t care for Hicham Melhem. I sat near to him at an event this fall, and he was incredibly rude: he insisted on chit-chatting (or rather, chatted up – see below) in Arabic throughout the entire event, ignoring the speakers in favor of the young women seated five feet away. In other words, his behavior was not only rude to the speakers, but it was also rude to the audience members around him, who (like me) might have preferred listening to the headliners’ talk than his own largely snide remarks.

My personal experiences aside, I can say that he turned out to be a fine interviewer, and that happily he did not ignore our President in favor of whatever comely young producer was working off-screen.

Anyway. If you watched the interview (its in English) and are curious to hear more about the interview process and reaction in the region, NPR’s On the Media has a very nice interview with Melhem that you can listen to here. Its not too long – 7.5 minutes – and quite interesting.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, Arabic, media, news, politics, television | Leave a Comment »

Al Jazeera on the intikhabat

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 13, 2008

Some (grainy again – sorry) photos from Al Jazeera’s primary Election-Day promotional piece, which featured biographical data and other “fun facts” about each presidential candidate …

First, Obama:

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He graduated from the College of Law at Harvard University

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First black senator in the Senate and the youngest in age (is this true? Perhaps the first since Reconstruction?)

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[smiling Obama, looking directly into viewers’ eyes]

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John McCain, Republican candidate [and looking awfully like Dick Cheney]

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The oldest candidate in the history of the American presidential elections

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[John McCain hard at work campaigning, but not smiling or looking at viewers]

I loved this promo for its color and detail, but I do think it is biased. Obama is shown in warm oranges and reds, while McCain is shown in cold greys and blues. Obama is shown smiling and facing the camera; McCain is shown unsmiling and looking into the distance.

But then again, the New York Times, which I love, had pretty biased coverage, too.

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more presidential election coverage: Obama and Israel

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 12, 2008

In my previous post on the Arabic channels’ coverage of the US presidential election, I promised to look next at Al Jazeera.

And I will – but first, a quick post to include the image of “White House Race” that Arabiya, which in general has very strong digital graphics, super-imposed on a digitized image of the White House:

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To fill the long stretches of (very late-night, in the Arab world) time in which no state returns were being reported, Arabiya broadcast a re-cap of Obama’s July visit to Jordan and Israel, which came at the close of his larger trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The channel showed Obama addressing the international media in Amman and commented on what his positions vis-a-vis the Middle East and Israel were likely to be:

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I wish I could tell you exactly what the channel said, but I was so busy fussing with my camera in order to get footage of the broadcast feature that I was only half-listening. But since it was Arabiya, I assume it was fairly agnostic about the whole thing.

(The “breaking news” caption records Obama’s wins in Weeskounsin, Meesheeghan, and Mineesouta, and the numbers indicate that Obama had 103 electoral votes to McCain’s 34.)

Posted in Americans, Amman, Arab world, Arabic, Jordan, politics, television, words | Leave a Comment »

more on the Arabic channels’ coverage of the election

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 10, 2008

I must begin this post by apologizing for the antiquity of our television. These photos are meant to highlight the incredible array of graphics that Arabiya and Jazeera created to promote their election coverage and to keep viewers interested during the long election night. (Remember: 11 pm Eastern time, when the race was called in the US, is 6 am Beirut time, 7 am Saudi time and 8 am Dubai time. As one Arabiya anchor said: This is a long day – a very long day.)

But thanks to our 10+ year-old television, the graphics look a bit striated. Sorry about this – we’re still hanging on to the 1990s, I guess.

Arabiya’s anchors did much of their broadcasting from a platform surrounded by massive digital screens showing images of the candidates (and, when appropriate, the US map):

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The text on the screen says “Race to the White House”, and promos for the channel’s election coverage showed a computer-simulated pan over a digitally-created White House, starting from the roof and ending with a front-on view, with the words “Race to the White House” super-imposed on the building.

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The news scroll above says: “Breaking [news]: Reuters: Obama wins the presidency in the elections in the state of Pennsylvania”; at the time Obama had 76 electoral votes and McCain had 34. As I said in an earlier post, the channels reported on the election all night, but their sources for voting returns were the major US channels and wire services.

For me, its almost as exciting to relive the night by looking at these photos as it was to experience it live.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, Arabic, politics, television, words | 1 Comment »

present at the Creation: the Arabic channels on Election Day night

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 6, 2008

Here are three snapshots I took around 7:30 on Tuesday evening: one from Al Jazeera, one from LBC, and one from Al Arabiya (Future, as I noted yesterday, was covering the far more important narrative of a baladi musalsal).

Here is Al Jazeera:

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As you can see from the big “American Elections 2008” news scroll, Jazeera (and all the Arabic channels) took its returns information from US news outlets. MSNBC is fairly straightforward, but it did take me a while to figure out what “Fouks Nouz” was. The channels did a great job with man (and woman) on the street interviews and live coverage from the polling centers – but when it came to official returns, they followed the US media.

Here is LBC, which broadcast for most of the evening using this split screen:

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LBC’s graphics were striking – I like the “You and The Event” text/graphic at the lower right, with “You” in red and “The Event” in white. But the black for me was a bit harsh for a night filled with so much hope – and the live broadcast from LBC’s studio (shown in the upper left quadrant) was fuzzy and of much lower quality than the static Obama/McCain image below or the live broadcast from American poll stations at the right.

And finally, Al Arabiya:

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As you can see here, Al Arabiya was engaged in interviewing someone with an interest in the US election – but the channel didn’t start covering the election live until a bit later.

Having said how much I puzzled over the transliteration of US media companies/networks, I should note here that I also had to sound out “Kntaki” and “Feermount”. But transliteration was a very minor issue – I loved how much attention these channels gave to the election, and particularly to the footage of people voting and expressing their views and candidate preferences openly.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, Arabic, citizenship, media, politics, television, words | Leave a Comment »

Future TV: “Full Coverage of the American Elections”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 5, 2008

If yesterday was like Christmas, today is like New Year’s Day: full of promise and a different kind of anticipation. Thank you, John McCain and Barack Obama, for giving speeches that reflected the kind of courageous leadership and commitment to country that you both share.

I spent a lot of time watching the Arabic channels last night – once I started, I was too addicted to stop. And most of the channels had excellent coverage (which I will post about tomorrow.

As for Future TV, whose advertisement promising “full coverage” of the election I mentioned yesterday, here’s what I saw when I turned the channel on around 7:15:

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That’s right: a musalsal (soap opera).

And here’s what I saw about an hour later:

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Another musalsal. In this scene, the man is listening to a threat that has been recorded onto that most modern of technologies: a Walkman:

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And finally, as the Midwestern states started reporting returns, a lively episode of Khallik bil Beit:

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Did Future think the election was scheduled for another night?

Posted in advertising, Arab world, Arabic, Beirut, citizenship, Lebanon, politics, television | 3 Comments »