More about CCTV Arabic and the "scarcity of attention."

Posted: 27 Jul 2009   Print   Send a link
"Arabic language television channels, particularly on satellite, are as plentiful as they are diverse. MENA region viewers have choices from over 400 satellite channels; from CNN Arabic [sic: CNN Arabic is still website only] and Al-Jazeera on the news side to soap-operas and entertainment shows from Arabic producers to movie and sports channels. ... International broadcasters – government sponsored and otherwise – know that audience development in new regional targets takes years of grinding out news and programs. Politicians funding these efforts have notoriously short attention spans, lengthened only by the number of times they become interview subjects. The shift of attention by Western international broadcasters from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to the Middle East, Africa and Asia is comparatively recent. Also recent is the interest by China in getting their message to viewers – following Russia, Iran and even Venezuela – comes from the hope that viewers will see all information equalized by the miracle of television. The Chinese government is not inclined to dabble in Arabic politics overtly through the new satellite channel. The primary interest is overcoming what it sees as 'biased coverage' of China. And MENA region viewers will, if they find CCTV’s Arabic channel, have another point of view to add to the rest. As Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Dean Joseph Nye wrote in Soft Power (2004), 'Plenty of information leads to a scarcity of attention.'" Michael Hedges,, 27 July 2009.
     "The Middle East has become a popular market for outside television enterprises. Apart from the big pan-Arabic networks – Qatar-based al-Jazeera and Dubai-based al-Arabiya – the BBC launched an Arabic television channel in March 2008 and the U.S.-government sponsored al-Hurra satellite network began operating in 2004.
Iran also runs an Arabic-language satellite network in the Arab world, Al-Alam; Russia has an Arabic version of the pro-Kremlin Russia Today channel, and TV networks in France and Germany also offer Arabic services.", 27 July 2009.
     "Meanwhile, the Chinese broadcasting company China Central TV on Saturday night launched an Arabic language channel for the Middle East and Africa as part of the government’s plans to improve its relations with the Arab and Muslim World. The channel is China Central’s fourth foreign language channel after English, French and Spanish. 'It really goes a long way to show that China is trying to break down the language barrier,' Ali said. Among the competitors of the new Chinese programming will be Al-Hurra, an Arabic language channel established in the United States in 2004 with backing from the U.S. government as part of a public diplomacy campaign." The Media Line, 26 July 2009. If Alhurra is merely "part of a public diplomacy campaign," then it would be in the same category as CCTV Arabic. See previous post about CCTV Arabic and CCTV Arabic website.
     Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom Fu Ying: "'No country in this world is perfect, and China also has its own problems at the current stage of development, thus through public diplomacy, we should make the outside world not only learn our achievements, but also our active attitude in facing and resolving our problems,' said Fu. She also said the public diplomacy needs 'quick and early response' so that China's voice can be heard by the international community at the first moment and the world know about the truth timely.'" Xinhua, 26 July 2009.