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Arab TV-Audiences

Negotiating Religion and Identity

Edited By Ehab Galal

Today the relations between Arab audiences and Arab media are characterised by pluralism and fragmentation. More than a thousand Arab satellite TV channels alongside other new media platforms are offering all kinds of programming. Religion has also found a vital place as a topic in mainstream media or in one of the approximately 135 religious satellite channels that broadcast guidance and entertainment with an Islamic frame of reference. How do Arab audiences make use of mediated religion in negotiations of identity and belonging? The empirical based case studies in this interdisciplinary volume explore audience-media relations with a focus on religious identity in different countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, and the United States.
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Audience responses to Islamic TV: Between resistance and piety

Introduction

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Most individuals of a Muslim cultural background today have probably experienced being confronted with questions of his or her beliefs, or how he or she perceives the role of Islam. For some, these may be more indirect questions embedded in global media discourses; the reality is, however, that for more than twenty years Islam as religion and being Muslim as a way of life have not primarily been solely private matter of belief. Instead, Islam and being Muslim have been globally contested, imagined and negotiated by both Muslims as well as non-Muslims. At the same time, this global struggle is paralleled in regional, national and local religious and political discussions over the role of Islam. The increasing number of Islamic television channels does not only participate in this ongoing struggle over how to interpret and understand Islam, but may also be seen as a consequence of the global and local attention placed on Islam. Regardless of whether Islamic channels are seen as voices of resistance, voices of piety, or both, they are – together with their audiences – contributing to and indeed shaping global and local discourses of Islam.

Over the past 25 years, the domination of national broadcasting outlets has been weakened due to commercialisation, internationalisation, and liberalization. The result has been a destabilization and decentralization of the institutional and technological arrangements of television (Ang 1996: 9). These changes have altered both the way scholars and the media industry approach audiences. A deeper awareness of audiences as...

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