Major industry award and dynamic programming mark Al Arabiya's third anniversary
- United Arab Emirates: Saturday, March 04 - 2006 at 10:14
- PRESS RELEASE
On the eve of its third anniversary, Dubai-based Al Arabiya is celebrating winning a major industry award together with the launch of a dynamic new package of programming that will re-enforce its rapid rise as a leading source of information for viewers in the region.
Already the most watched channel in Saudi Arabia and Iraq and gaining steady ground in other Arab markets, viewers across the Middle East will tune in, as of March 3, 2006, to a more powerful on-air content. The highlight of Al Arabiya's new primetime schedule will be "The Last Hour", a new news bulletin characterized by fast-paced delivery providing an up-to-the-minute news digest as well as insight and analysis on the day's news. Daytime programming will feature enhancements through a revamped morning news bulletin that will be divided into two half-hour bulletins instead of the long hours.
"An aspect of Al Arabiya's success has been its constant monitoring of viewers' preferences, with an eye on what impacts their daily lives. Hence, one sees the emergence of our business news and programming that has been geared to provide the viewer with information of immediate relevance to his day," said Jihad Ballout, Al Arabiya's director of corporate communications. He went on to describe the up-coming content as "an improvement on an already successful formula that has been increasingly embraced by Arab viewers, as publicly available figures clearly indicate."
The Dubai-based news channel's short but impressive track record reflects its enduring commitment to a style of journalism that has played a role in raising professional standards. With a series of professional milestones and news stories underpinned by "sense, not sensationalism", Al Arabiya has the distinction of being the first news satellite channel to air news of the assassination of late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri and its aftermath, and to provide extensive coverage of the elections in Iraq and Palestinian Territories, not to mention interviewing former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, an editorial achievement that resonated in both public and media circles regionally and internationally.
Although political news tends to occupy the bulk of its airtime, Al Arabiya has been for some time at the forefront of business news successfully competing with the specialised channels, reflecting the booming financial markets in the Middle East. Its dominance in both fields was recently validated by the latest IPSOS-STAT survey which gave Al Arabiya a viewership rating of 24.2% - 4.9% more than its closest competitors in one major Arab market.
Through its frontline journalism, Al Arabiya has had to pay the ultimate price numerous times for aspiring to be closer to the truth and to bring that truth to Arabs. Tragedy recently struck the channel last week when Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat and her colleagues Adnan Khairallah and Khalid Mahmoud were ruthlessly slain by unidentified gunmen while interviewing people on the outskirts of Samarra. "Atwar, Adnan and Khaled are a great loss to Al Arabiya and journalism at large - they will never be forgotten," Jihad Ballout said, adding the murderous act is yet another tragedy befalling Al Arabiya and further proof that journalism in Iraq remains at the mercy of the political agendas of all involved there.
In fact, Al Arabiya has lost more media personnel in the line of duty in Iraq than any other news organization - the last 3 victims bring the total Al Arabiya staff dying since March 2003 to 11 - 5 as a result of a car bomb and 3 by US fire. Additionally, several of Al Arabiya's reporters were detained for prolonged periods of time by US forces in Iraq, only to be released without ever being charged.
"This kind of intimidation will not force us to change our editorial policy that has been our professional guidelines from the outset," said Ballout.
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