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I’m writing this in Dubai while watching events back in London on 24-hour news channels. It gives you a certain perspective on both the media and my location.
The Middle East is haunted by its history both ancient and recent. In ancient times, it was the cradle of monotheistic religions and is still torn by the conflicts between and within those belief systems. Add in the divisions imposed in more recent history by the West’s imperial ambitions, and you have the alchemy by which conflict spills regularly into our modern times.
In such context is any discussion of television an exercise in superficiality? We certainly often accuse Western media of triviality, and it is often guilty as charged. But, at its best, it can be an engine of social cohesion through shared experience and it can still be an important platform for ‘real news’ and peaceful political discourse, no matter how imperfect.
So, media, as free and independent as possible, is to be applauded when it succeeds and encouraged when it does not. More investment, better regulation and, crucially, the training and knowledge transfer to help local creativity find a route to air, are all essential.
Read Euromedia with our annual survey of the broadcast industry in MENA region.