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Pan-Arab News TV Station al-Mayadeen

The New Regressive Leftist Media

Series:

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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7. The Re-launch of Third Worldism: The Voice of the Global South and the Cooperation with TeleSUR

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In this chapter, I investigate al-Mayadeen’s self-perception of being part of a global revolutionary South, and its re-launch of Third Worldism as a frame for understanding contemporary political developments in the Arab world – and beyond. In this context, Latin America, in general, and Venezuela and Cuba, in particular, play a central part as a political and ideological role model – one that both points back in history and exemplifies a contemporary way forward. Al-Mayadeen conveys a narrative about the two regions – Latin America and the Arab world – being historically connected through immigration, shared humanistic values, the experience of Western Imperialism and not least the resistance against it. Today, on the other hand, the political life in the two regions differs. Whereas Islamism to a growing extent predominates in the Arab world, Latin America offers a strong example of left-leaning governments coming to power across the region. The so-called pink tide started with the victory of Hugo Chávez in the Venezuelan presidential elections of 1998 and through the following years included governments in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Guatemala.1

Latin America is made present at al-Mayadeen through the use of music, images and old icons (e.g., Che Guevara and Fidel Castro) just as high priority is given to the coverage of contemporary Latin American politics (e.g., elections in Venezuela and Bolivia, or the death of the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez). More concretely, the Latin American focus has resulted in Ghassan bin ←165 | 166...

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