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Douglas A Boyd

The evolution of the electronic media in the contemporary Middle East


In: Revue de l'Occident musulman et de la Mditerrane, N47, 1988. pp. 23-34.

Rsum Rsum : L'volution des mdias lectroniques dans le Moyen Orient aujourd'hui. C'est en premier lieu pour rpondre aux besoins de communication du systme colonial que les mdias ont t implants dans les pays arabes. Les mmes raisons ont amen leurs structures tre fortement centralises et sous contrle gouvernemental. L'apparition et le dveloppement des missions radiophoniques en arabe ont t fortement influencs par les facteurs politiques, rivalits entre puissances coloniales puis entre tats d'orientations diffrentes. Dans la rgion du Golfe, la diffusion de tlvision franchit elle aussi couramment les frontires (imbrication des territoires, similitudes de langues et de rgimes, quelquefois stratgies publicitaires). Elle est trs fortement concurrence par les vidocassettes, le plus souvent pirates, et dont les contenus chappent pratiquement l'intervention des institutions locales. La programmation radio-tlvise est principalement axe sur le divertissement. La place importante qu'y occupent les importations occidentales s'explique en particulier par leurs prix peu levs et par l'influence des normes sociales et culturelles des pays industrialiss sur les responsables comme sur une partie des audiences. Souvent la deuxime chane nationale leur est pratiquement consacre. La production audiovisuelle s'est d'abord implante en Egypte, s'appuyant sur les importantes structures dj en place pour le film et sur l'influence rgionale de celui-ci. Les antagonismes politiques (hostilit au nassrisme, puis l'tablissement de relations avec Isral) ont favoris le dveloppement d'implantations analogues dans les pays du Golfe, faisant largement appel des personnels expatris d'autres pays arabes, principalement d'Egypte. Peu de recherche srieuse a t mene jusqu'ici dans la rgion sur les effets des mdias, sauf dans le cadre de stations internationales (B.B.C., Voice of America) et d'tudes du march publicitaire. Le recrutement et la formation du personnel trs qualifi ncessaire, l'adaptation des mdias au dveloppement conomique et social des pays concerns, rencontrent des difficults, notamment au niveau de la coordination qu'elles impliquent, entre organismes responsables des divers domaines comme entre pays. Le satellite Arabsat, d'ores et dj en orbite, offre de vastes possibilits, encore incompltement mises profit. Par contre les satellites diffusion directe vont brve chance permettre aux grandes puissances mondiales d'atteindre les audiences arabes au-del de tout contrle national. F.C.

Citer ce document / Cite this document : Boyd Douglas A. The evolution of the electronic media in the contemporary Middle East. In: Revue de l'Occident musulman et de la Mditerrane, N47, 1988. pp. 23-34. doi : 10.3406/remmm.1988.2207 http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/remmm_0035-1474_1988_num_47_1_2207

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Douglas A. Boyd

THE EVOLUTION OF THE ELECTRONIC MEDIA IN THE CONTEMPORARY MIDDLE EAST

L'volution Rsum : des mdias lectroniques dans le Moyen Orient aujourd'hui. C'est en premier lieu pour rpondre aux besoins de communication du systme colonial que les mdias ont t implants dans les pays arabes. Les mmes raisons ont amen leurs structures tre fortement centralises et sous contrle gouvernemental. L'apparition et le dveloppement des missions radiophoniques en arabe ont t fortement influen cs les facteurs politiques, rivalits entre puissances coloniales puis entre tats d'orientations par diffrentes. Dans la rgion du Golfe, la diffusion de tlvision franchit elle aussi couramment les frontires (imbrication des territoires, similitudes de langues et de rgimes, quelquefois stratgies publicitaires). Elle est trs fortement concurrence par les vidocassettes, le plus souvent pirates, et dont les conte nus chappent pratiquement l'intervention des institutions locales. La programmation radio-tlvise est principalement axe sur le divertissement. La place import antequ'y occupent les importations occidentales s'explique en particulier par leurs prix peu levs et par l'influence des normes sociales et culturelles des pays industrialiss sur les responsables comme sur une partie des audiences. Souvent la deuxime chane nationale leur est pratiquement consacre. La production audiovisuelle s'est d'abord implante en Egypte, s'appuyant sur les importantes struc tures dj en place pour le film et sur l'influence rgionale de celui-ci. Les antagonismes politiques (hostilit au nassrisme, puis l'tablissement de relations avec Isral) ont favoris le dveloppement d'implantations analogues dans les pays du Golfe, faisant largement appel des personnels expatris d'autres pays arabes, principalement d'Egypte. Peu de recherche srieuse a t mene jusqu'ici dans la rgion sur les effets des mdias, sauf dans le cadre de stations internationales (B.B.C., Voice of America) et d'tudes du march publicitaire. Le recrutement et la formation du personnel trs qualifi ncessaire, l'adaptation des mdias au dve loppement conomique et social des pays concerns, rencontrent des difficults, notamment au niveau de la coordination qu'elles impliquent, entre organismes responsables des divers domaines comme entre pays. Le satellite Arabsat, d'ores et dj en orbite, offre de vastes possibilits, encore incompltement mises profit. Par contre les satellites diffusion directe vont brve chance permettre aux gran despuissances mondiales d'atteindre les audiences arabes au-del de tout contrle national. F.C. ROMM 47, 1988-1

24 / D.A. Boyd Both print and the electronic media were introduced first in those Arab countries with the most exposure to the West, more specifically Arab countries with colonial histories. For example, the introduction of Arabic printing and later radio was very different in North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq than in the Arabian Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,Oman, or the Yemens. The French in North Africa and Syria-Lebanon, and the British in Palestine, Egypt, and Iraq, fostered an interest in printing because they needed to establish that technology to facilitate communication among themselves as well as with those they either governed or otherwise tried to influence. However, even in the late 1980s, illiteracy in the Arab world is high. Pre-World War II With the exception of occasional transmissions by oil companies for their employees and the illegal stations in Lebanon, all Arab broadcasting stations are government-owned and -operated by a ministery of information. The pattern was first introduced by the British and French who wanted to maintain control over transmissions in countries where they were influential. Private stations would have necessitated advertising support, and during the 1930s and 1940s, it was reasoned, the economic base for such an undertaking did not exist. Also, commercial operation woul have brought about a kind of popular programming which was at variance with the political and developmental broadcasting believed by those who introduced it to be most beneficial. The French and British felt that a more centralized system following from their own public service-oriented domestic experience would be most beneficial to the country about to receive its first radio station. France and Britain did not necessarily intend for Arab-world broadcasting to be government-operated, but the European concept of a public broadcasting corporation, such as the BBC, independent of government, did not turn out to be politically transferable to the Arab world. The popularity of radio in the developing world was predictable. Even the most enthusiastic programmers, however, did not envision the pervasiveness of government stations by the late 1980s broadcasting to a vast number of transistor radios in the Arab world. Radio is an ideal medium in a developing area such as the Middle East where the culture is family-centered and where most entertaining is done at home. Early concerns of the British about the effects of Italian Arabic broadcasts to the Arab world from Radio Bari in the mid- 1930s had a lasting effect on radio developments in the Middle East. Starting in 1934, Mussolini's radio service beamed Arabic programming across the Mediterranean with the hope of gaining support for Italian aspirations in North Africa and Ethiopia. When the tone of the Radio Bari broadcasts turned decidedly anti-United Kingdom, the british government formed several committees to determine how to counter the entire range of Italian anti-British propaganda in the Arab world. As a result, the government authorized the BBC to transmit in Arabic, its first foreign language. l Both the Allies and the Axis powers were active in Arab-world broadcasting during World War II. Each side broadcast directly to Arabs and attempted to extend

The Electronic Media in the Middle East I 25 influence by infiltrated Arab sympathizers into those few national systems then existing. Post-World War II Two major factors have influenced radio and television developments since World War II. First, both the poorer countries (Egypt, the Sudan, Syria, and the Yemens) and the wealthy states in the Gulf believed, for different reasons, that radio services, following what has been called the transistor revolution, were essential for communicating political and development messages. Television, introduced much later than radio, was promoted for similar reasons. Second, radio and in at least one instance television services were expanded in terms of numbers of separate channels and powerful medium- and short-wave transmitters to counteract aggressive propaganda-oriented services operating in the 1950s and 1960s from Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Arab states, for example Saudi Arabia, believed a strong radio organisation to be a necessary form of self defense against hostile regional radio propaganda. STRUCTURES AND FUNCTIONS OF ARAB BROADCASTING Several factors make radio and television unique in the Arab countries. This results from a combination of religious, geographical, climatic, political, economic, and linguistic factors. Organization All broadcasting is done by governments. The only exception to government operation of official broadcasting was the Lebanese television service between 1959 and 1977. Two separate advertising-supported stations operated with Lebanese, French, and U.S. financing.2 After the 1975-1976 Civil War, the Lebanese government became the dominant influence and half-owner of Tele-Liban, the Lebanese national television service an amalgam of the two private stations. Until 1975, the radio services in Lebanon were state-controlled. However, since the Civil War, and increasingly since the summer 1982 Israeli invasion, numerous unofficial stations operate; the Lebanese government has not been strong enough to close them. In late 1987, there were over fifty illegal radio stations operating in Lebanon. Receivers Radio receivers are abundant in Arab states. Because countries want citizens to hear the government radio services, national development policies have included provisions for making low-priced transistor sets available. Some factories operate to provide both radios and the necessary batteries. In the wealthy Gulf states, receivers imported from Asia are inexpensive since these well-to-do countries do not need revenue from heavy import taxes. This factor and the rather fre ewheeling consumer economy of the Gulf states make prices for more expensive radios, color television sets, and home video recorders lower than in Europe or the United States. In the poorer countries, monochrome receivers are expensive considering the per capita gross national product. However, because the culture is family-centered and television is, to a greater extent than radio, a status symbol, the determination among the less fortunate to own a television set is strong. Members of the extended family often band together to purchase a used set. The same situation

26 / D.A. Boyd applies to home video cassette recorder owners. Whether sets are operating in public or private places, several people are usually viewing or listening. Arab hospitality does not permit one to be selfish with a receiver. Domestic and International Broadcasting The number of medium-and short wave transitters in the Arab world increased dramatically during the 1960s and 1970s. As the medium-wave band became more crowded, the power of transmitters increased because states wanted to reach both citizens and residents of other countries. By the early 1980s most Arab countries had at least one 2000-kilowatt facility. Between 1979 and 1981, Saudi Arabia alone added 12 megawatts of mediumwave radio transmission power.3 Both during the day and at night it is possible to hear services from most Arab states east of Egypt on an inexpensive mediumwave transistor radio. Surveys done by the Voice of America and commercial marketing organizations show that Arab-world listeners regularly hear non-Arab world-radio broadcasts. Particularly during times of crisis in the area, listeners compare news reports from international services such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America, and France's Radio Monte Carlo Middle East. When one considers that the government operates radio in the Arab world, the desire to hear what others are saying is not surprising. Also, several foreign broadcasters, specifically those mentioned above, operate powerful medium-wave services beamed to Arab countries, thereby eliminating the listener's need for expensive and intricate short-wave radios. Unlike medium- and short-wave radio signals, television transmissions usually cover short distances. However, in some areas of the Arab world, the warm humid weather produces favorable conditions for television transmissions to travel long distance. It is possible for Egyptian television to be seen in Lebanon, Israel, or Jordan, but most transborder television watching takes place among the Gulf states. These states share similar linguistic and conservative religious backgrounds, and are governed by ruling families with common defense goals. The attempt to make state radio and television service available throughout the Gulf area is a form of cultural and political communication. However, in at least one case, the motivation for broadcasting to others is financial. Bahrain, an island nation just off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, lacks the oil revenue of its wealthy neighbors and must attract radio and television advertisers in order to help finance its broadcast media. Advertisers purchase commercial time on television and radio with the hope of reaching consumers in Saudi Arabia. In January, 1986, the Saudi government began allowing commercials on the second television channel. This action was taken in light of a threatened budget cut because of decreased oil revenue, as well as because of competition from commercial advertisements inserted in video cassettes and from other neighboring commercial television services. Media Competition In the Arab world, particulary in the Gulf states, television had little competition until the introduction of home video cassette recorders in the mid-1970s. Few cinemas, theaters, and nightclubs exist, and those that do are not attractive to most members of the family-centered Arab culture. Strong competition for the television viewer has come from the home video cassette recorder. The relative wealth of a country is the main factor in determining whether the purchase of recorders and tapes (alternativaly available for rent) is an important consumer activity. Research has also shown that the desire to circumvent educationand development-oriented government-owned television in the Arab world is another

The Electronic Media in the Middle East I 27 strong motivation for one to acquire a VCR.4 Home video recorders in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates provide direct competition to state television broadcasters. Cassettes are available in the form of American and European films and television programs as well as material from Egypt the Arab world's most important cinema and television production country. Most VCR material in the Middle East, like that in the rest of the developing world, is pirated. Estimated 1987 Arab World Video Cassette Recorder Ownership Country Kuwait Saudi Arabia Bahrain Qatar U.A.E. Egypt Iraq Jordan Lebanon Syria North Yemen The Sudan Oman percentage of TV Homes with VCRs 88 75 79 77 80 4 10 30 55 10 25 1 75

Western entertainment as well as pornographic material is, of course, of great concern to Arab governments. Of equal concern is the potential for cassettes to be used to disseminate subversive political or religious information : the part that audio tapes played in the Iranian revolution of 1979, has been recognized by information ministry officials in the Gulf. Programming In the Arab world, radio and television programming is mostly entertainment-oriented. Each country attempts to produce programming reflecting local culture, but, in fact, informational and educational offerings do not dominate television schedules. The former director of Egyptian television observed in 1980 that ... a television set is usually bought with the intention of entertainment. Nobody thinks of television as a means of education when they go to buy a television set.5 This observation applies to other countries as well as to Egypt. Of course, Arab television stations feature a mix of information, educational, and entertainment programming, but the latter, whether imported from the West or produced in the Arab world, constitutes the majority of program time. Programs imported from the U.S., Europe, and since the late 1970s Australia, are attractive to Arab television programmers for two reasons. First, they are cheap, but whatever the cost, they are far less expensive than local production. TV World's survey of world-side programming prices shows that a half-hour American program can be telecast in Egypt for between $ 650 and $ 800. 6 Second, many Arab television executives have been trained in the West and feel comfortable with such programming and often believe that offerings such as Dallas are a status symbol, showing that a television system in a developing country can program what is

28 / DA. Boyd available to viewers in New York, London, or Paris. Often, Western television programs are featured exclusively on second channels such as those in Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Dubai, and Qatar. Western material became essential for the second channels catering both to citizens of the country and to a large Englishspeaking expatriate community. Egypt became, and to a large extent remains, the Arab-world leader in television, primarily because of its long involvement in film production. Egypt has had a film industry since the late 1920s. After the 1952 Egyptian revolution, the government became interested in the use of mass media as a means of reaching and changing people. Film production rose markedly in the 1960s and 1970s because the government, after nationalizing the film industry, mandated acceptable social and political themes in films. The result was a decline in the popularity of Egyptian films in countries whose leaders were not receptive to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's Arab socialist philosophy. Although Saudi Arabia desperately needed Arabic-language material for its television system when it started in 1965, Egyptian television productions and films were not acceptable because of their political orientation : at the time, the kingdom's relations with the Nasser government were at a low over the Civil War in North Yemen. However, Egyptian films were and are popular, serving the purpose of establishing Egyptian talent (and therefore the Cairene dialect) as the Arab world standard. Most Arab countries did not have a pool of talented writers, technicians, and actors for television, but Egypt had people trained in film both able and willing to make the transition. It was only natural for Arab television stations to seek Arabic-language programs from a country with what was believed to be a quality product for sale. The Gulf states in particular found that local production of anything other than news and informational programs was made difficult because they had almost no artistic tradition. Sculpture, painting, and drama were discouraged because the Gulf states, most notably Saudi Arabia, were influenced by the traditional interpretation of Islam that forbids reproduction of human forms. Also, the bedouin culture, which dominated these countries until modern times, inhibited artistic development because of tribal wanderings. When local production of drama was attempted, many states found their facilities lacking. After the initial decision to introduce television, the aim was to get a signal on the air. In the process, emphasis was placed on buldings to house transmitters, video tape recorders, films chains, and other equipment. Little thought was given to facilities for production of anything other than interviews and news. By the time that the Gulf states and other Arab world countries had converted to color, had expanded coverage to reach most citizens, and had expanded telecasting schedules through longer hours or second channels, the need for more Arabiclanguage programming became apparent : Egypt was ready to sell what it had in exchange for much needed hard currency. Since the mid-1970s, Egyptians writers, producers and actors have found it more financially rewarding to leave Egypt and produce special programs and 13-part historical and contemporary series in other countries. The goal was to sell these to the wealthy Gulf states a group of countries attempting to decrease their output of Western-produced material. A group of Egyptians might take a script to Athens, London, or Frankfurt, rent a private studio, tape a program as quickly as possible and then sell it to the Gulf states.

The Electronic Media in the Middle East I 29 Following the Camp David agreements prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel, a group of Arab countries headed by Iraq declared a boycott of Egyptian products and services. It was made clear that the move to isolate Egypt was aimed at the Anwar Sadat government and not at the Egyptian people. Temporarily, television services stopped purchasing Egyptian television programming directly from the Egyptian state television organization, and television production by Egyptians outside of Egypt boomed. Gulf states were then in the middle of the post- 1974 oil price increase and could afford to purchase such offerings. Organizations such as Saudi Arabian-based Gulfvision created to promote common television interests in the region and the Kuwait-based Arabian Gulf States Joint Program Production Institution promoted the use of Gulf talent. It was not so much that Gulf television viewers dislike Egyptian programming; rather, they wanted productions dealing with Gulf cultural concerns in their own dialect. Perhaps more than any other production, the Arabic version of Sesame Street (Iftah Ya Simsim), produced by the Joint Production Institution in the Kuwait television studios, gave Gulf television personnel confidence that they could make quality television programming. A follow-up to Iftah Ya Simsim was completed in 1987 in Amman, Jordan, at a commercial television production organization with some government ownership. Althought local production is increasing and the resulting drama and other programming forms deal more specifically with local concerns, Arab television like the medium in other Third World countries has a predominantly Western style. Television is a Western invention that has been molded by Western film and other artistic traditions. What one can do on television is closely tied to the technical limitations of the medium. Virtually all early television systems in the Arab World were designed and installed by Western European or U.S. equipment manufacturers. (The Japanese did not enter the television production and transmission market until the late 1970s). Training has been done by Westerners on-site, or alternatively local employees have been sent to Europe or North America for production training. Not surprisingly, the result is Western-type television programming in Arabic; little of what is seen on Arab world television stations is uniquely Arab. Color Television The decision as to whether a developing country introduces color television transmissions is often a financially difficult one. Not only must a country purchase color modification equipment for its transmitters, but also it must upgrade or completely replace lighting and most monochrome production equipment. Viewers must then decide whether to purchase new television sets, which are often four to six times as expensive as conventional monochrome receivers. The decision would not be so difficult if color television sets could be manufactured easily in-country, but often scarce foreign exchange must be used to import receivers from Asia or Europe. The decision to start color television has not been a difficult one for the Gulf states, most of which are extremely wealthy. In the case of Oman, its first two stations in Muscat (1974) and Salalah (1975) were color. Egypt's eventual conversion to color started in 1974 when the French donated some color production equipment for one studio. The Egyptians were initially interested in color video tape production because they knew that the Gulf states were converting to color and that they would need to have programs in color to sell to that area.

30 / D.A. Boyd Along with the financial considerations of color conversion, Arab countries had to choose between two incompatible color television standards : PAL (West German) and SECAM (French). Most Arab-world countries use PAL, but some use SECAM because of French government's success in linking the adoption of their color system to military, economic, and cultural agreements.7 Of the six countries in the Gulf states, only Saudi Arabia uses SECAM. In 1971, the Saudi Ministry of Information hired Hammett and Edison, a California-based broadcast engineering consulting firm, to study the PAL and SECAM systems to determine which one would be best for the kingdom. In 1972 the firm recommended PAL, but King Faisal made the decision in favor of the SECAM system, perhaps because at that time Saudi Arabia had concluded several agreements with the French government. The Saudi decision was a political rather than a technical one. The country made a commitment to a viable national television system and has the funds to reach this goal, and an impressive amount of transmission and production equipment has been purchased since 1977, most of it from France. A new one-half million dollar television production complex in Riyadh, completed in 1982, is entirely equipped with French television hardware. Since the late 1970s, the equipment needed to convert (transcode) PAL to SECAM and SECAM to PAL has decreased in cost and is technically better. This has helped Saudi Arabia exchange color programs with its Gulf neighbors, but the desire is strong to reach Gulf states with a PAL color signal. For this reason the Saudi government converted its powerful Damman television transmitter to PAL rather than to SECAM so that Bahrain, Qatar, and the U.A.E.regularly, and Kuwait occasionally, could receive the Saudi national television channel in their own color standard. Damman area residents may see the Saudi channel via another transmitter, a lower-power UHF one transmitting SECAM color. Research Almost no serious research has been done on the effects of broadcasting and the print media in the Middle East. Most research thought to be reliable is done by marketing research firms for stations allowing commercial sponsorship, for international broadcasters, or for advertising agencies hoping both to use the information and to sell it to others. Systems depending on commercial sponsorship for support have an understandable interest in counting those who listen and watch. Lebanon and Jordan are examples of countries which have hired firms to assess the popularity of television in Lebanon and both radio and television in Jordan. In a competitive broadcasting market, this is the only means of establishing a station's audience size and thus determining advertising rates. International broadcasters such as the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America undertake media habits research so that they can organize programming to fit listener preferences. Such information is also used to justify the existence of these services. The case of Radio Monte Carlo Middle East (RMCME) is rather special. Originating in a Paris studio, this popular Arabic service reaches most of the Arab world east of Lybia with a medium-wave signal from the Cyprus-based transmitter. The service is owned by organizations controlled by the French government. RMCME actually competes for advertising income with local Arab world commercial stations, such as Egypt's Middle East Radio, Radio Jordan, and the commercial services in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Radio Monte Carlo Middle East spends a great deal of money on

The Electronic Media in the Middle East I 31 its on-going advertising sales campaign, and the research consistently indicates that the service is very popular.8 However, for the Arab countries in general, Browne's statement about research is accurate : A very large share of the world, the developing nations in particular, has no comparable need for audience research, and has not developed the capacity to conduct it.9 In these countries the lack of enthusiasm for research is caused by a lack of funds and because research is not a priority. Also, there is a misunderstanding of research methods and a lack of qualified personnel both to undertake and to interpret research results. Most broadcast officials believe that they know their audiences well enough to give them a well rounded service. In the event that research indicated a negative attitude toward broadcast offerings, officials are not sure how they would react to negative comments. Aside from occasional letters to the stations, no formal or informal stuctures exist for citizen feedback. Personnel Iraq, Egypt, the Sudan, Lebanon, and Jordan are self-sufficient with regard to all technical as well as artistic broadcasting personnel. Gulf states do not have adequate personnel to operate the government, private industry, or the military without skilled people from other countries. In some Gulf states, the indigenous population constitutes only about half the total population. The media must compete for personnel from among those in a small pool. Expatriates primarily from Egypt and Jordan played an important role in the beginning of both radio and television in some Gulf systems and many stayed for several years until local citizens could be trained to take over. The situation in many countries has not changed much because many broadcasting jobs are not seen as attractive in terms of income or prestige by citizens who prefer to choose careers from among the many others available. Several of the broadcasting services in the United Arab Emirates were headed by expatriates at first, and non-citizens still hold important positions in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Jordan is the chief exporter of technical personnel to the Gulf states. At one point the Gulf states ministers of information investigated the possibility of establishing a technical training center to help solve the personnel problems, but they decided to wait for developments at the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) training project in Damascus, Syria. Originally based in Cairo, Egypt, ASBU headquarters' moved to Tunis when all Arab League organizations left the country in protest of its 1979 peace agreement with Israel. Prior to the move, ASBU had established three separate field offices to deal with specific aspects of radio and television : a technical center in Khartoum, Sudan; a research office in Baghdad, Iraq; and a technical training complex in Damascus, Syria. By 1980, the building for the training center was complete, but financing was not available for the equipment or staff to undertake training. The Iraq-Iran situation during the early 1980s only exacerbated the situation in Syria, where the Assad government's politically antagonistic attitude toward neighboring states meant that few Arab states, and probably no Gulf countries, would send citizens to Syria for training. The Syrian support for Iran in the Iraq-Iran conflict only made Syrian isolation worse. However, the most serious result of the Syrian situation has been that Arab countries still have no place in the Arab world to which they can send personnel for training. The training effort essentially remains informed, except for those who

32 / D.A. Boyd are sent outside the Arab world for instruction. Some countries will continue to rely on the talents of non-citizens for both radio and television operation. In November, 1987, following an Arab summit meeting in Amman, Jordan, a resolution passed stating that individual Arab states should decide whether to renew diplomatic ties with Egypt. Most Gulf states did so immediately. Jordan and Egypt exchanged ambassadors in 1985. Mass Media Philosophy and Development Most Arab countries seem to understand the political importance of both the print and the broadcast media. Beyond this, however, media managers do not appear to have a grasp of how the media could be utilized in national development ; those with such knowledge have generally been unable to operationalize it in the form of specific developmentoriented programming. Arab states usually have central planning organizations, often at the ministry level, that control the economic planning of the country. Staffed mostly by economists, these organizations do not seem to be aware of the role the media can play in educational, social, and cultural change. Further, there is a surprising lack of communication and cooperation between ministries of education, information, and communication. In Saudi Arabia the education and information ministries have never been able to agree on the type of instructional programming to complement the elementary or secondary school curriculum. However, this problem may be solved with additional studio facilities in Riyadh and the second national television channel. ARAB MEDIA : THE FUTURE It is axiomatic that the future of the media in the arab world depends to a large degree on political and economic developments there. It is unlikely that the basic structure within which both the print and the broadcast media function will be altered. Governments will continue to own and operate the electronic media because they believe it is in their best interests to do so. Probably the most serious problem facing Arab countries is cooperation. Some understanding will be required if interference in the medium-wave band is to be held to the present crowded, but acceptable, level. Not even the Gulf states can afford to continue building more 1- and 2-megawatt medium-wave transmitters. Cooperation on television channel use in the VHF band in the Gulf states should be a priority, but most importantly, programming cooperation is essential. Assuming that the trend toward decreasing the amount of imported Western television programs continues, high-quality Arab productions must be shared in order to fill expanding program schedules. One convenient means of increasing communication within the Arab world will be ARABSAT, a project financed mostly by Saudi Arabia and sponsored by the Arab League. Two functioning satellites already provide more reliable telephone, telex, and data transmission capability, but perhaps the most striking use of the satellite will be for television. The satellites could provide a more convenient and less expensive means of sending television signals from one country to another via both C and KU bands if political differences were put aside. Also, large countries with scattered populations could connect ground stations within a country without INTELSAT transponders. By 1983, four states Oman, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan,

The Electronic Media in the Middle East I 33 and Algeria were using leased transponders on one of the INTELSAT satellites for this purpose. Satellite transmission of television signals can be much less expensive than terrestrial links and offers higher quality signal transmission. The Arab satellites were designed to transmit a television program throughout the Arab world directly to villages, but programming details for this community television transmission have not as yet been finalized. 10 As in other areas of cooperation among Arab countries, political and economic factors as well as colloquial language problems stand as barriers to cooperation. These same factors impede the distribution of printed matter in the Arab world. European and American newspapers and magazines usually appear on news-stands without much censorship, particulary in those countries with large Western expatriate populations. But Iraqi papers are not usually sold in Egypt, and Syrian papers are seldom found in Saudi Arabia. While radio signals usually reach the intended audience, it is easy to stop the importation of printed material. The 1979 move of the Arab States Broadcasting Union from Cairo to Tunis has been disruptive, and a great deal of the initial enthusiasm for the organization has diminished. It may be that differences among Arab countries, from Morocco to Iraq and from Lebanon to the Yemens, are too great for large-scale cooperation. Here the example of the Gulf states'television organization, Gulfvision, is perhaps appropriate. Rather than attempt the type of compromise necessary along political and economic lines, clusters of countries might work together in such areas as news gathering, program production, and frequency allocation. Common interests and concerns provide a natural grouping of the North African countries, Egypt and the Sudan, and Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Perhaps more than anything else, the future effects of all media on Arab society depend on how well and to what degree the Arab states adapt to new technology. Already, VCRs offer an attractive alternative to viewers of government television services. The importation, duplication, and sale of VHS and Beta cassettes have in effect circumvented one of the main motivations for beginning national television : to control the kind of programming available to viewers. Direct broadcast satellites (DBS) may be introduced into the Middle East sometime in the late 1980s. Television via DBS is of little concern to governments because they, via ARABSAT, are likely to be in control. Direct satellite radio broadcasting is another matter. Technically it is possible to broadcast directly to receivers without the use of satellite receiving dishes, as long as the frequency is above 27 mHz. If the Arab countries continue to be politically and economically important to the world's major powers, international radio broadcasting via satellite may be an acceptable, although expensive, means of reaching Arab listeners with a reliable signal.

NOTES 1. Asa Briggs, The Golden Age of Wireless (London : Oxford University press, 1975), pp. 398-9. 2. Nabil H. Dajani, Lebanon (London : International Institute of Communications, 1979), pp. 269. 3. Douglas A. Boyd, Broadcasting in the Arab World : A Survey of Radio and Television in the Middle East (Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1982), p. 124.

34 / D.A. Boyd 4. Douglas A. Boyd and Joseph D. Straubhaar, Developmental Impact of the Home Video Cassette Recorder on Third World Countries, Journal of Broadcoasting and Electronic Media, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Winter, 1985), 5-21. 5. Tomader Tawffik, Television in Egypt, Paper delivered at the Annenberg School of Communications World Communications Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 12, 1980. 6. World Prices for US Sales of Half-Hour Series, TV World, July, 1982, pp. 46-7. 7. For a discussion of the French color system and the French export of the color television technology, see Rhonda J. Crane, The Politics of International Standards : France and the Color TV War (Norwood, New Jersey : Ablex Publishing corporation, 1979). 8. Audience, Penetration and Listenership of Pan Arab Commercial Radio Stations in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE/Oman, Extract of MMEMS 1979, the 79 McCan Erickson Middle East Media Study conducted in February-March, 1979, Table I, supplied by Radio Monte Carlo Middle East. Also see, Douglas A. Boyd, Radio and Television Audience Research in the Middle East : Why Don't the Arabs do it? The European Journal of Communication, Vol. I (1987), 13-28. 9. Donald R. Browne, International Radio Broadcasting : The Limits of the Limitless Medium (New York : Praeger Publications, 1982), p. 318. 10. See papers on Arabsat in this issue (EC).

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