Satellite Television News

The first satellite channels came about in 1989. Throughout the 1990’s they continued to grow.

The first channels were CNN and Sky with CNN being broadcast internationally enabling ‘a geo-political agenda to be propagated globally’. This made a significant impact in diffusing US policy across the globe.

During the Gulf War (1990) Pakistan’s only news channels were CNN and their state broadcaster (PTV).

Media globalisation has increased Western cultural influence. But it has also opened up ‘different cultural, institutional and historical backgrounds… such alternatives are likely to multiply in the era of globalisation in spite of appearances, which may paradoxically witness greater diversity than uniformity’ (UNESCO 1998: 23).

The 1990s also saw the rise of regional identities and the development of regional media powers.


Kai Hafez  questions whether globalisation as a process of increasing homogeneity was a myth.

‘Is national and regional growth proving so dominant that it is functioning as a bulwark against the global networking of the media?’

Hafez’s approach asks us to explore contradictions and demands that we do not simplify the story of news production.

Global elites use global television channels but much of the global use of satellite is for local channels from their own countries. Example: India and Africa watch new channels from their own countries rather than the BBC.



The Media Imperialism Thesis focuses on conglomeration and the inability of other players to speak effectively to a global audience. Hafez questions whether satellite TV challenges this.

Satellite TV has led to a regionalisation of the media in geo-linguistic areas. Cross border consumption exists within regions.


The reach and power of global corporations is expanding. Murdoch, for example, owns a lot of the media across the globe. However, regional stations are beginning to emerge to create ‘contra flows to the mainstream’.

Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera was founded in 1996 by Emir of Qatar. In 2001 the channel became famous globally because they broadcast video speeches sent to them by Osama Bin Laden. The rise of Al Jazeera was significant in challenging the New World Information Order (NEIO) that UNESCO had outlined in the 1970s.

Al Jazeera was among the first channels to contest the monopoly of Western-dominated global TV news journalism. It was first broadcast in Arabic but was joined by an English-language sister channel in 2006. 2014 saw the establishment of Al Jazeera America.

In 2003, Al Jazeera challenged the media coverage of the US led war on Iraq. This led to rage from the US government and military because they exposed the US propaganda machinery by trying to present a wider story of the Iraq War.

Much of the Western coverage was filled with reports from embedded journalists within US or British troops.

Al Jazeera sought to be neutral and unbiased in their war coverage. They focused more heavily on diplomacy and anti-war protest than US channels, and less on battle and strategy. They also showed some of the horrors much unlike the sanitised Western press.

Comparing Al Jazeera with Western press you can see the crucial role that controlling information during a war plays and the US’s aggression in determining to silence and undermine alternative voices (Miles (2005) Al-Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World.Abacus Press).

Al Jazeera was initially funded by US$150 million grant given by Emir of Qatar. Emir continues to subsidise the channel. Other sources of income include advertising, cable subscription fees, broadcasting deals with other companies and the sale of footage. In 2000, advertising accounted for 40% of the station’s revenue.

The channel put Qatar on the world map and increased it visibility against dominating neighbours.

News on Al Jazeera concentrates on stories from around the globe. It is quite diverse.

Additionally, there are 60% less adverts on Al-Jazeera compared to America’s CNN.

These notes are from my year 2 semester 1 lectures and seminars.
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