U.S. Taxpayers Shell Out Half Billion Dollars for Little Watched Arab TV Station

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The television network Alhurra, created by the U.S. government to compete with the popular Arab-language Al Jazeera network in the Middle East, has turned into a money pit that’s getting killed in the ratings. This according to the largest public opinion poll taken in the Arab world by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, which found Al-Jazeera is still the No. 1 source of news for 55% of the Arab world. The 2009 survey found Alhurra was getting less than a 1% audience share across the Muslim world’s largest and most-influential countries.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency that oversees Alhurra, disputed the poll’s findings, claiming the American-backed network reaches 26.7 million people weekly across the Middle East, up almost one million from last year. But even the BBG’s own numbers in its annual budget request show that Alhurra is hurting—having dropped from fourth to fifth in Iraq among the most-watched TV networks
Despite its low ratings, Alhurra continues to receive more money from the U.S. government. Having already consumed a half billion dollars since its founding in 2004, the network could receive a funding boost to $113 million for the coming year, up from $110 million, if Congress approves the budget request submitted by the BBG.
Alhurra was first launched by the Bush administration in an attempt to counter Al Jazeera’s coverage of the invasion of Iraq, which showed in graphic detail the destruction and problems levied on that country by the American military.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
2009 Annual Arab Public Opinion Survey (University of Maryland and Zogby International) (PDF)


Letitia King 15 years ago
The Zogby poll of audience preferences, not audience share. Independent market research by AC Nielsen indicates that Alhurra TV reaches 26.7 million people weekly across the Middle East. Alhurra has established itself as a valued source of news and is frequently cited by international media.

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