EuroNews Arabic: “Purity” Comes to a Highly Polluted Region
June 21, 2008
This was confirmed by EuroNews’s Managing Director, Michael Peters, in an interview which followed a recent event the European multilingual broadcaster held in London recently to launch its new look and brand image, which evolves basically around the concept of being “Pure”.
“EuroNews doesn’t spend its money on studios, presenters and reporters” but on “being available in various languages” Peters said.
Also, he defended the channels’ unique point of differentiation… which is having no reporters on the ground, explaining that reporters bring a certain bias to a story by default.
Peters also gave me another exclusive piece of information in my interview with him for Asharq Al Awsat:
EuroNews will have a roaming reporter for the whole Middle East based in either Doha or Dubai.
Now, regardless if you think the concept is genius or not… it does provide a different offering to what is currently available in the market, be it the one provided by the well established Arab news channels, namely Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya… or the foreign new-comers such as Al Hurra, France 24, Russia Today and BBC Arabic (as a television channel).
However, the million dollar question (at least for EuroNews which unlike its western counterparts IS in the region for adversities money despite securing funds from the European Commission for the first 5 years), will the so-called “Purity” win over Arab viewers?
The Middle East isn’t your average region, its an area with a lot of “pollution”: wars, division and a population which has complained from being misunderstood for decades.
Michael Peters himself admits to this by saying “most of the time the viewers themselves are part of the story”, however he argues that EuroNews’s approach is that it treats it’s audiences “as adults”, which he says means that the channel doesn’t seek to impose views on them and leaves them to come up with their own opinion.
The other thing Peters explains is that the channel is also targeting Arabs living in Europe.
Two things to say here:
One of my favourite quotes which became almost an automated response that I get whenever I ask a Western news channel about bias and accuracy is “at times of crisis and wars, emotions run high and balance may be seen as bias”.
What this means is despite that EuroNews might think its approach is “Pure”, many Arab viewers might still consider it to be not so.
The other thing is: Arabs in the Middle East and Arabs in Europe are completely different “target markets”; despite many similarities there are huge differences between the two… at least I sometimes think so, when I see a lot of Arabs in their own countries communicating in English or French and talking about the latest trends, while many who have long migrated to the West are still unable to speak in anything except Arabic.