This volume of TBS examines the hottest trends and controversies involving satellite TV in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Titled The Real (Arab) World: Is Reality TV Democratizing the Middle East?, this edition includes articles on reality TV by political scientists and media experts Marwan Kraidy, Marc Lynch and Joe Khalil, as well as interviews with some of the Arab worldâ€™s media's leading figures, including Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera International, and Moez Masoud, a rising young Islamic talk show star. It also features a wide range of essays on other media-related topics, including the question of anti-Americanism on Arab TV by former US Ambassador William Rugh, the impact of satellite TV in Iran by Yahya Kamalipour, the politics of Arabic television dramas by Marlin Dick, and an article by new TBS senior editor Lawrence Pintak about how the Palestinian issue became a marker of Muslim identity in Indonesia. Other contributors include Hussein Amin on the newly proposed BBC Arabic TV channel, Kai Hafez on Arab satellite channels as political parties, Adel Iskandar on whether Al Jazeera has gone mainstream, Philip Seib on the impact of new media technologies on Middle East politics, Issandr El Amrani on the long wait for privatization of Egyptian TV, Lindsay Wise on Islamic reality TV, Ursula Lindsey on Ramadanâ€™s anti-terror TV shows, Charles Levinson and Paul Schemm on the role of the media in Egyptian elections, and S. Abdallah Schleifer on Arab media and democratization. For all ths and much more, see www.tbsjournal.com.My own article, on the decidely un-sexy topic of Egyptian state television reform, is here. But as this issue's editorial argues, Al Jazeera is not a medium and there's more to Arab TV than a Qatari channel. Most Egyptians watch their national TV (even if they don't trust it for news), and the coming changes in domestic TV are potentially more important than the already considerable impact of Al Jazeera has had since 1995. The article also has an overview of some of the changes in the print media in Egypt over the past few years as a comparison.
I'm sure I'll link to specific articles once I get to read them in the next few days. I am also reading Marc Lynch/Abu Aardvark's new book, "Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today" , and I will be posting about that soon. (Thanks to the Aardvark for the review copy!)
I will also be visiting the mothership in Doha at the end of the month and hope to have an opportunity to take a look out the new Al Jazeera English channel, as well as meet the Aardvark in person as I see he is a guest speaker at the conference I'll be attending. Much merriment will be had.