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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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Hope for change still prevailed when al-Mayadeen was launched in June 2012, but the confidence was slowly running out. Today, looking back, certainly no one will deny that the uprisings in 2011 have turned lives upside down – though unfortunately often not for the better. Fundamental changes in the political life, on the other hand, have been limited. Rather, similarities between politics in the Arab world today and before 2011 are striking. This book has examined a media that was born out of these life-changing developments just as it has investigated the formation of a new ideological discourse where holding on to the past and returning to a pre-2011 state of Arab politics is one of the central mantras. In 2012, in the midst of continued (though fading) popular uprisings, violent responses and a growing militarisation – in a time where new heroes had been born and hopes for a brighter Arab future still persisted – al-Mayadeen might have seemed as a misplaced remnant from the past. Today, nevertheless, the station’s nostalgia for the Arab world pre-2011 – though not necessarily its political line – has become mainstream.

Al-Mayadeen is both an important representative of the post-2011 generation of Arab satellite news media and an interesting example of how ideological formations took place in these crucial years of Arab political history. I have been interested in understanding both: the TV station and the ideological discourse in its making. I have shown how these two are closely interlinked, interdependent and ←187 | 188...

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