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Pan-Arab News TV Station al-Mayadeen

The New Regressive Leftist Media


Christine Crone

This book is the first comprehensive research conducted on the pan-Arab TV station al-Mayadeen – an important representative of the post-2011 generation of Arab satellite news media. Likewise, it is an investigation of a growing political trend and ideological discourse in the Arab world, which the book identifies as The New Regressive Left. The book sheds light on overlooked parts of the Arab population, which neither identified with the vision of the young activists initiating the uprisings, nor with the ambition of the growing Islamist tendency that followed. Rather it voices a grouping of Shia Muslims, religious minorities, parts of the Arab Left, secular cultural producers, and supports of the resistance movements brought together by their shared fear of the future.

Drawing on a wide variety of programmes from the station’s first four years and on interviews with staff members, the book captures how a TV station can play a role in the production of ideology through e.g. its composition of programmes, collaborations, events, iconization of cultural figures, choice of aesthetics, as well as through its recycling of cultural heritage and already existing ideological concepts. Overall, four ideological core concepts emerges, namely: the support of the resistance, the rejection of Sunni Islamism, the acceptance of authoritarianism, and the challenging of neoliberalism. Taking seriously a media outlet such as al-Mayadeen and the worldview driving an ideological discourse such as The New Regressive Left seems more acute than ever if we want to grasp the developments in a post-2011 Arab world.

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In the Arab world, 2012 was a time of hope, ambitions, uncertainty, division, violence, disappointment and growing frustration. It was also a time characterised by expectations that politics and everyday life were changing for something fundamentally different than pre-2011 conditions. While in 2011, the public uprisings had seemed to unite Arab populations both nationally and regionally, in 2012 the fragmentation over opposing political interests and alliances divided the Arab world to a disruptive level. It was in this time of ambivalence and conflict, on June 11, 2012, that a new pan-Arab satellite news TV station saw the light.

In 2013, when I started working on this project, I was curious to understand some of the ideological and media developments that had been stirred by the public uprisings that took place across the Arab world in 2011. I was interested to hear the more silent voices, the voices of the parts of the Arab population, which did not represent or identify with either the hope and vision of the young progressive activists initiating the uprisings, or the strategy and ambition of the growing Islamist movements, whether in political life (e.g., the election of Mursi in Egypt), on the battlefield (e.g., the militarisation and Islamisation of the uprising in Syria) or in the media (e.g., Islamic State’s online media campaign). I was – and still am – convinced of the importance of investigating alternative worldviews to the ones that had first caught the attention of Western media and academia alike....

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