A successful Arabic-language channel
today is الشَّرقيـــــــــــــــة
, “The Eastern One
“), the country’s first privately-owned satellite network.
This channel belongs to Saad Al-Bazzaz, an influential London-based Iraqi businessman.
In the 1980s, he was put at the helm of all Iraqi media, before defecting in 1992 to become a political dissident of Saddam Hussein‘s regime.
Al-Bazzaz provided an “insider look” on the first Gulf War through his testimony book: “حرب تلد أخرى : الطريـــق السري لحرب الخليـــج” (“A War Begets Another: The Secret Road to the Gulf War.”)
He is also the owner of the Arabic newspaper الزَّمــــــــــــــان
), which, as you may remember from the post “Top 20 *Must-Know* Arabic Adverbs of Time
“, means “The Time
In recent years, Al-Bazzaz was widely accused by his Iraqi critics of being the recipient of lavish funds originating from the Saudi royal family.
Al Sharqiya’s program “فلــــــــــوس بــــــــووك”, which literally means “Your Daddy’s Ca$h”, is pronounced “Floosbook”, a facetious Arabic pun on the name “Facebook”!
The “Arab Spring” seems to be the main thematic backdrop of the show
According to “Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture
” (Susan Murray and Laurie Ouellette): “Al-Sharqiya produced reality series focused on helping struggling Iraqis, including “Ration Card
“, which supplemented families on limited rations; “Blessed Wedding
“, which awarded poor couples $6000
for their nuptials; and “Couples and Money
“, and “Supreme Knowledge
“, both of which awarded provisions and cash prizes to citizens in need.”
سعد البــزاز (Saad Al Bazzaz): The London-based owner of Iraq’s Al Sharqiya TV channel
Shows somewhat comparable to “Big Brother
” and “Survivor
” were also part of the Sharqiya
‘s grid of programs—but with a “local twist”:
“Playing House, named after a traditional childhood game, aired every night during the month of Ramadan in September 2006.
A dozen contestants including شيــــــعة (Shiites), أكـــــراد (Kurds), سُنِّيـــون (Sunnis), and مسيحيـــــــــون (Christians) from disparate regions lived together in a remodeled inn in the less-violent northern Iraq, where they formed teams and competed against each other. Each Week viewers chose between two contestants, nominated among the losing team for removal from the house. Despite these competitions, the show steered clear of clashes of religion, regional identity, or السِّيـــــــــاســـــة(politics.)”As a young Sunni contestant put it: “The show emphasizes this point to the Iraqis, that we are living together, نستطيــــــــع العيش معًــا (we can live together), we don’t care what is going on, what plans others may have for us, we are conntected to each other.”