Yemen ‘booms’ with new TV channels

Yemen is, by Arab standards, a poor country but its own recent ‘Arab Spring’ political changes have led to an “unprecedented surge” in new TV channels. BBC Monitoring is reporting that there are now 16 private or state-backed channels beaming out to the Arab world from Yemen.

“Most,” says the BBC report, “are political in nature and belong to political groups and parties, as well as tribal leaders throughout the country.

The BBC, quoting an Al Jazeera story, says Yemen has witnessed over the past two years a major transformation in visual media after the eruption of the revolution of the Yemeni youth encouraged the breaking of the barrier of the governmental monopoly of this sector and the launch of a number of satellite channels. Broadcasting had, for many years, been restricted to the state transmissions.

“Among the most prominent of these channels, the establishment of which accompanied the youth revolution, is the channel, Suhayl, which is owned by tribal leader Shaykh Hamid al-Ahmar, and the channel, Al-Yaman al-Yawm, which is owned by former President of Yemen Ali Abdallah Salih, in addition to the channel, Al-Masirah, which belongs to the Al-Huthi (Ansar Allah) group, and the channel, Al-Masir, which belongs to the southern movement,” says the report.

While analysts and experts agree on describing this media expansion that accompanied the Yemeni spring as a positive step, they, nevertheless, adopt a specific position regarding the performance of these nascent channels.

They describe the performance of most of these satellite channels as playing a negative role that does not serve the Yemeni audience, and contributes to deflating the area of the political struggle in the country, in view of the absence of a law to regulate the audio-visual media.

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