The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Nile TV struggles to break into Israeli market

This is the first story I've seen in the Israeli press that it relatively complimentary on the state-owned Nile TV's Hebrew-language broadcast. Mind you, it's probably tongue-in-cheek:

The exposure is limited, the competition is stiff and rumors of dismissals and even impending closure are mounting. The staff at the Egyptian broadcasting authority's Hebrew-language channel are worried.

"Our colleagues in the French and English department told the minister in charge that no one in Israel watches us. They think `we're stealing the show from them,' they wanted to swallow up the Hebrew broadcasting slot, to get our airtime," says one journalist at the state-run channel, Nile TV (called "Arutz Hanilus," in Hebrew).

The channel, which broadcasts two hours a day, features news reports about Israel and the Middle East, historical items about sites in the Arab world, newspaper surveys and commentary, and speeches by President Hosni Mubarak with excellent simultaneous translation into Hebrew.

I can't say I have that much sympathy for Nile TV -- most of the programming is quite poor, the best thing on it are old Egyptian movies with subtitles, and otherwise a ragtag mix of chat shows and music videos. The Hebrew slot, which Hebrew-speakers usually make fun of because of the thick accents, is at prime time (6-8pm if I remember correctly), and tends to be propaganda-oriented. So I guess the same thing applies to Egyptians and Americans: if you can't do public diplomacy well, perhaps it's best if you don't do it at all.