....LMB: "Radio Sawa"....

August 27, 2002

The LA Times printed this article yesterday about Radio Sawa. Radio Sawa, AKA the Middle East Radio Network, is essentially a mild US propaganda effort aimed at making young Muslims and Arabs like the United States.

You can give Radio Sawa a listen yourself at the link above. Frankly, it sounds almost no different from American pop radio, except that most of the songs are in Arabic. I was unable to make myself listen to more than 3 songs in a row before having to shut it off (Madonna's "True Blue." Yuck). About 25% of Radio Sawa's broadcast is dedicated to news programming, which Sawa's DJs insist is unbiased, non-propagandistic, and based solely on facts.

The LAT article is aimed at pointing out Radio Sawa's successes, and to give lip service to the station's critics.

I became pretty suspicious of the article's claims about Radio Sawa when I noticed that one sign of Sawa's popularity was a poll of 100 kids living in Amman, Jordan (42%, or 42 of them, said that Sawa is the station they listen to most). Polling 100 people in one city is meaningless. So if we can't rely on that data, who can we find out what Arabs and Muslims really think of Radio Sawa?

I figured a good way to find out would be to look at how the Arab and Muslim press covered Radio Sawa.

And to a large extent, they don't.

One article from the Jerusalem Post that is pretty thorough, pointing out that the brains behind this operation is Norman Pattiz who runs Westwood One, one of the nation's largest radio networks. However, the Post article seems to take at face value Sawa's claims that it is unbiased.

Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly has an article which looks at Sawa in broader terms of propaganda efforts, and brings up a concern expressed in several of the articles: the US is making a huge effort to make the Arabs know about the United States and its people, but makes no effort to get to know these same Arabs.

The Star of Jordan has an article a bit more critical of Sawa, focusing on its propaganda goals. Specifically, it points out that Radio Sawa's news uses the point of view that Palestinians fighting Israel are terrorists, rather than the more common view that they are resisting oppression.

The closest thing we have to an examination of Sawa's potential news bias is an analysis by one of the founders of Electronic Intifada, which obviously has a teensy bit of bias itself. The author compares one day's news coverage on Radio Sawa with one day's coverage on the BBC, and he concludes that Sawa is indeed biased. Read the article and decide for yourself.

Beyond those articles, I had trouble finding any mention of Radio Sawa in the Arab press at all. Which leads me to theorize that Radio Sawa is not as popular as it would like us to think it is.

Good thing it only cost $35 million to set up. And could cost another $160 million if the government decides it wants Sawa to compete with Al-Jazeera.

Posted by Jake at 03:44 PM
Comments


mokhtar beddek
10,rue belebna kouider
dz-sidi-belabbes-22000
algeria-

dear mr the director,

how are you ?.....i am an algerian young man,i am 32 years old....i am so glad to write you from
algeria to your radio station "radio sawa" in usa...my country algeria is in north africa...i write you from an cyber club because i have not internet at home ! and computer too !!...

i would to ask you to make me a favour and
exception...to make me pleasure !...offer me some cd's please!!...

here in algeria,believe me dear mr the director!...the cd's are still so expensive! and me i cannot to buy them,because i have not much money!...and i am still without job since one year!!!...i worked in university just part time job during 6 months! and now my situation is very tight.....sometimes we cannot find what we want as music on cd !...the cd's in sales here in algeria are especially the recordable cd's !! with bad sound! the original cd's are nearly not available,when we find them ? it are STILL so expensive !...algeria don't make the original cd's!...that is the problem!!...my dream since long years is to have some cd's with good music!...when my dream comes true ?....i heard about another disc : dvd audio,what is it ?...how is this disc and what is the difference between this dvd audio and dvd and ?!!....i heard also about mini-disc!....here in algeria,we just can get cassettes only !!!....i am trying to save money since many years to buy at least an used discman cd! just i can to do!!!...

i pray you please dear mr the director,to have good heart and prettiness to accept to offer me please...the latest albums in cd's of your choice from good and great arabic music(with ud maqam especially)and great maerican music......for trying to spend at least good times when i can get player!...i have not where to go ! except listen to music and sometimes internet !!!...

thank you so much.

very important :


please dear mr the director,when you send me the discs...write the number of cd's on the package please! !... because the mail is opened here in algeria by the customs and sometimes the agents...still the contents !!...yes it's true !!!....we cannot to do anything !!!...no justice here in algeria !!!....


please dear mr the director,make me so happy with your great cd's at least !....give me please some joys and happiness!...please,think about me !!!.....

i am waiting your great mail and waiting deeply your great gift after !...

thank you so much dear mr the director,for your undestanding and your prettiness !...


please dear mr the director....replay me,please!!!!!.....


kind regards from algeria,

mokhtar.

ps : dear mr the director....can you please help me to buy just an cd portable here in algeria ?...i know i won't never to buy it here!....everything is expensive! and i have not enough money sadly!!!....

Posted by: mokhtar beddek from algeria at October 12, 2002 11:27 AM

One of the radio stations that I listen to is radio Sawa .I keep in mind that america will never effect me by the way i act and think...i can listen to thier radio just for fun..but nothing else really..so listening to radio Sawa aint bad cause its only music..if u r smart then it wont effect you..just think of it as an ordinary radio station
salam

Posted by: maya at February 10, 2003 01:36 PM

Radio Sawa...only listen to it because of non interrupted music...except for the news which keeps coming up every half hour, sometimes it seems every ten minutes! And all these repeated songs!!
SO what's happening? Us young educated and trendy Arabs are switching channels very quickly, back to our favorite local channels.

Yesterday I was amused when the news broadcaster said ...and I quote "al Qaeeda a terrorist group..." and this was read out by a Muslim Arab and no less a sudanese..and I felt sorry for him because I know this is not the sentiment of any ARAB, MUSLIM or Sudanese for that matter; but it is simply a job he is doing! So whom are we fooling?

Yes a month ago it was Al Qaeeda ,now its the terrorist group Al quaeeda....

you can almost see the changes crawling through...a bit like that girl in the movie "the ring" when she comes crawling out of the TV and glares at you with her ugly face!

so how did if feel....well it installed a touch of resentment to what sawa is doing to our people. I am sure this notion is not limited to me either.


SO IF YOU STICK TO JUST PLAYING MUSIC THAT WOULD BE GREAT. Oh and keep those oldie goldies coming through.
You are doing a great job in offering cheap entertainmant, especially at work.

Posted by: nkf at February 16, 2003 10:08 PM

PLEASE WOULD YOU BE SO KIND TO EMAIL US YOUR WAVE LENGTH FOR CANADA (VANCOUVER)RADIO SAWA ARABIC.BECAUSE MY FATHER LOVES YOUR RADIO STATION.HE TRIED TO FIND YOUR STATION BUT WAS NOT SUCCESSFUL.

THANK YOU

Posted by: FATIMA at June 9, 2003 07:40 AM

If you have internetconnection you can listen to Radio Sawa check here http://www.radiosawa.com/index.cfm it gives frequencies as well

Posted by: Reza at October 30, 2003 03:49 AM

Hello,
I would appreciate getting the email adress for Mr. Norman Pattiz if possible.
I really support his idea of creating the arabic language satellite television channel and would like to discuss the idea with him.
Thanks

Posted by: Hana at November 27, 2003 03:31 AM
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December 01, 2004

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No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

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Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

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CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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