Al-Manar director Abdallah Qasir wants to expand al-Manar TV’s viewer base and market share in the Middle East. Al-Manar was, in 2005, the most popular channel in Yemen, Bahrain, and the Palestinian territories, while in Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Jordan it was the third most popular network.
Throughout the war in July and August, when Israel mercilessly bombarded Lebanon and Lebanese Hezbollah militias fired rockets into northern Israel one of Israel’s main targets was al-Manar, a satellite channel part owned by Hezbollah. The network, which offers 40 percent news programmes, managed to broadcast almost uninterrupted from a secret location. But now that there is a shaky truce, the channel’s director Abdallah Qasir, defends the credibility of his news output and told Adnkronos International (AKI) that Israel could be a new basin for viewers.
“Even within Israel there are people who tune in to know what is happening to their soldiers: during the war, many Israeli viewers often prefered al-Manar to know the truth of the war of Olmert and Peretz” Qasir said.
According to a survey conducted by the university of Beirut in April 2005, al-Manar emerged as the most popular channel in Yemen, Bahrain, and the Palestinian territories, while in Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Jordan it was the third most popular network. But in terms of new market share, Qasir indicates Israeli television viewers as the next target…
Al-Manar, being MAJORITY owned by Hezbollah (55%), has often been accused of broadcasting news slanted with Nasrallah’s rabidly anti-Semitic personal viewpoints (not the least of which being: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew”). Qasir, however, defends Al-Manar:
“We have nothing against Jews” he claims. “We are not anti Jewish, but we are anti-Israel and anti Zionist, because Israel has occupied our lands and threatened our lives for decades now”.
“We are Muslims and as such we respect the other two revealed religions, Christianity and Judaism, and we consider them sister faiths” he added.
(Anti-Israel, but they want Israeli viewers?) And another thing…
“The television is certainly close to Hezbollah and to its political line but it is also a channel with a strong editorial independence, in favour of a sovreign independent Lebanon, which opposes the Israel and US dominion in the region.”
Regarding the financing, al-Manar’s director said “they mainly come from advertising and from private donations” and vigorously denies any financial support from Iran.
I find this incorrigibly hard to believe. Indeed, virtually impossible to believe. Then again, perhaps a team of completely independent-minded journalists single-handedly came up with “an image of the Statue of Liberty, a skull for her face, wearing a gown dripping with the blood of other nations” with no Hezbollah input.
So how will the average Israeli react to advertising for al-Manar? While I have my own personal hypothesis, this could actually based on a known fact. Talk is circulating about an around-the-clock Israeli satellite station — billed “an Israeli Al-Jazeera” — and al-Manar, with its Eutelsat hookups, may want to step in and provide satellite news broadcasting. (Or perhaps, live correspondents could provide valuable data to Hezbollah operatives.)
Regardless, I can’t see them outselling Reshet.