The spotlight is once again on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network, following its announcement to expand into the US market through its acquisition of Current TV.
As it looks westward, Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel is losing viewers closer to home, asserts the Economist. This is in part due to new competition from independent news outlets within countries that have seen revolutions, including Egypt and Tunisia. But content is also a factor:
Al Jazeera’s breathless boosting of Qatari-backed rebel fighters in Libya and Syria, and of the Qatar-aligned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, have made many Arab viewers question its veracity.
So has its tendency to ignore human-rights abuses by those same rebels, and its failure to accord the uprising by the Shia majority in Qatar’s neighbour, Bahrain, the same heroic acclaim it bestows on Sunni revolutionaries.
Even the English channel, which won at least three awards for its documentary on the human rights abuses committed in Bahrain, is not immune, the Economist continues, pointing to recent editorial decisions that could have been influenced by Qatar.
“Al Jazeera America will not win hearts and minds like that.”