Has the U.S. Wasted $700 Million on an Arabic-Language TV Station?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alhurra, the U.S. government’s answer to the popular Middle East network Al Jazeera, has cost American taxpayers $700 million since its inception during the Bush administration. But Alhurra has failed to grab enough viewers in the region to make it a worthwhile investment going forward, says a report from a U.S. Senate committee.

“Given the crowded media environment of the Middle East, either greater resources must be devoted to marketing and promotion or additional programming changes must be enacted in pursuit of increasing (Alhurra’s) market share,” reads the report from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. “Should these efforts fail to improve the overall viewership levels, policy makers will have to decide if continuing Alhurra’s operation is worth the costs.”
The Arab language network, which broadcasts out of a studio in Springfield, Virginia, has an annual budget that exceeds the combined funding for U.S. government networks targeting Asia, Cuba and Iran. But it has only garnered an audience share of 2%, while receiving about $1 million a year for marketing its television and radio programming.
In contrast, Radio Free Asia tries to reach a market of more than 1 billion people, with a marketing budget of less than $2,000.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


Vance 14 years ago
Deirdre Kline-"america needs a voice in this region filled with anti-American sentiment and where the local media regularly distort U.S. policy." Its like the pot calling the kettle black and normal thinking person would laugh at your comment, american propaganda at its best. Alhurra is just more american wasted tax dollars.
Deirdre Kline 14 years ago
As Senator Lugar’s report states, research shows that Alhurra has a weekly reach of 64 percent and is the third most trusted TV news station in Iraq. It is equally important to draw attention to the success Alhurra has had throughout the Middle East. As the chart on page 31 of Sen. Lugar’s report shows, Alhurra’s audience has consistently averaged more than 25 million weekly viewers for the last three years – a significant audience by any standard - and an unprecedented audience by international broadcasting standards. The network is the leading international non-indigenous news television channel broadcasting to the Middle East. Surveys conducted by international research firms such as ACNielsen also show that a majority of Alhurra’s audience finds the news to be credible. Respondents also said that Alhurra contributes to their understanding of current events including 85 percent in the UAE, 80 percent in Syria and 70 percent in Morocco. Additionally, Alhurra is regularly cited as a source of news for other Arab media outlets. While television is an expensive medium it is the way people consume news in the Middle East. America needs a voice in this region filled with anti-American sentiment and where the local media regularly distort U.S. policy. Alhurra’s steady inroads into the competitive Middle East marketplace are noteworthy. Deirdre Kline Communications Director Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.

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