"We're Not Expecting to Change People's Minds About Anything"


The UK's Guardian reports on varied reactions to the debut of the new American satellite TV channel Al Hurra, "the free one." Unsurprisingly, the Guardian's reporter finds many Egyptians unimpressed–"'You mean the American propaganda channel?' proved the most popular response." Most Egyptians, though, as the story points out, can't even see it, lacking satellite dishes. An excerpt:

Norman Pattiz, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the government agency which oversees Voice of America and now Al Hurra, explained that the newscasts would be free from government influence. The network's mission, he said, was to provide independent and credible journalism, not to sway hearts or influence opinions.

"We're not expecting to change people's minds about anything," he said.

In between segments, promotions ran for the new channel full of obvious symbolism. There were tight shots of eyelids slowly opening, wild horses running free; in black rooms, men and women opened windows and in rushed a flood of light.

What seems the most sensible response to this station is buried at the end of the piece, though:

A leading advocate for human rights and the publisher of the English-language Cairo Times, Hisham Kassem, watched Al Hurra on Saturday, and was not sure what to make of it. But in this crowded, noisy city, why not add another voice to the fray?

"Everyone is going on about media infiltration," he said. "But I say let a thousand stations bloom. Let's have a Chinese station, a European station. Let people decide for themselves. If it's going to be propaganda—we'll have to wait and see—but if so, then when I want to see the American government's point of view, I'll know where to look."