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ICG Risk Blog - [ Hundreds of hand-wired satellite TV dishes in slums without sanitation ]

Hundreds of hand-wired satellite TV dishes in slums without sanitation

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NewsHour, 15 April, carried an audio clip on Al Hurra (The Free One), a US sponsored TV channel broadcasting to 22 Middle Eastern countries with 170 million potential listeners that is fighting for space among the some 130 satellite stations now in the Middle East.

Yes, al Hurra has blundered badly, perhaps very badly, commencing its inaugural broadcast with talking head interviews so reminiscent of other state sponsored stations and failing to report news of critical interest to listeners at the same level of priority coverage.

Yes, US diplomatic circles have voiced considerable frustration over earlier efforts, and many potential listeners say that, "If U.S. policy in the region was sound and convincing, they would not resort to cosmetic means to improve their image."

Yes, its sibling Arabic-language radio, Radio Sawa, or in English, begun two years earlier is doing better.

But as the NewsHour clip pointed out that in slums "too poor to have plumbing and sanitation," it was easy to spot the "hundreds of hand-wired satellite TV dishes."

Yes, we desperately need to balance our approaches to Israel and the Palestinians, but we must continue this program -- and continue to improve it -- as some will admit to watching it in private.

As the audio concludes, "The stakes are huge, nothing less than the hearts, minds, and attitudes of the Arab world."

Think what the Voice of America did for the US during the Cold War. Al Hurra could be the cheapest weapon that the US ever inserted into the middle east.

Gordon Housworth



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