Hezbollah TV Survives Israeli Attacks, For Now

The Israeli military has launched attacks against broadcast facilities of Al-Manar, a television station operated by Hezbollah in Lebanon, but has not stopped the station from broadcasting. Jamal Dajani, director of the media monitoring group Mosaic on LinkTV, talks with Noah Adams about the station's audience and programming.

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NOAH ADAMS, host:

Over the past week of fighting in the Middle East, the Israeli's targeted a relay station for Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel. The missile missed the station, Al-Manar remains on the air. To find out the reach and content of Al-Manar, we're joined, from San Francisco, by Jamal Dajani. He's director of Middle Eastern programming for Mosaic, a group that monitors media from that region. Mr. Dajani was there any damage at all to the, the ability of Al-Manar to broadcast?

Mr. JAMAL DAJANI (director of Middle Eastern Programming, Mosaic): Well you know, initially they targeted the building and then they hit the top floor, so they kept broadcasting. But now the entire building has been damaged and Al-Manar went off the air for about six hours. I believe they have been broadcasting, which they are broadcasting, but they have been broadcasting from a van.

ADAMS: A van just moving around the city, possibly?

Mr. DAJANI: Just moving around, because they went back on the air right after six hours. The entire building is, is hit as well as another building they have for another station, called Al-Nour TV, that has been totally destroyed.

ADAMS: And who is watching this channel and, and, and how large would the audience be do you think? This signal?

Mr. DAJANI: Well I mean, you know in the Middle East, you have two hundred plus different satellite channels and the advantage of having satellite TV there -that you cover the entire region. So all these channels, in Lebanon alone, six different satellite channels and Al-Manar has a large audience. The large audience is comprised of Islamists, and people that don't believe their own government, or they have a, a Shiite population following. So it is a very popular channel. After Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and perhaps Abu Dhabi TV, Al-Manar could be anywhere between fifth and seventh you know between that that ranking in the entire region.

ADAMS: If somebody just watches Al-Manar, is there any truth there, or is it purely inflammatory propaganda?

Mr. DAJANI: Well now, you know, they have a good quality production value. It's not like a station that you would watch and you say, what's that? You know? Its it's, it's, it's terrible or it's horrible. They're professional about it. They have credible news reports and but you have to also be very careful what are you looking at. Whether it's the coverage about the Middle East that deals only with Iraq, or does it deal with Lebanon, or does it deal with something visa vie, Israel and or the United States. And so when it comes to Israel and the United States they make no beef about it, they are very anti-Israel, very anti-American. They are also anti-many of the regimes there.

They have their own slant on things, but you know who is not slanted in the Middle East? I mean it's really it's really difficult to talk about the war of information or the propaganda war, you know. The United States also have Al-Hurra station operating there and, and people view Al-Hurra which means right out of Virginia. A lot of people look at it there as an American propaganda tool. The Israeli's they have their own Arabic speaking station. Iran also joins the mix, they have another station called Al-Haram, now BBC has Arabic, so you know, there is a whole sea of competition going on there and I would say every single station has its own agenda.

ADAMS: Jamal Dajani from the media monitoring group Mosaic, thank you sir.

Mr. DAJANI: Thank you.

ADAMS: There is analysis of the origins of Hezbollah on our website, NPR dot org. You can also read what newspaper op-ed pages around the country and the world are saying about this crisis.

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