The time is right for offering an Arabic television channel in the United States. A growing--and increasingly affluent, Arab American community should be represented nationally in the vast US media scene. Streaming media is now popular in the US, and is the outlet of choice for major content providers. Audiences, as well, are now used to the idea of subscribing to one or more streaming media service.
Arab American media in the form of print, radio and television is available at a small scale in major markets. Examples include Arab American News, Beirut Times and Middle East TV and Radio. These media outlets compete for audience attention against US media outlets. A boom in Arabic content came with the Internet and Satellite TV bundles from the Middle East. While relevent, news and entertainment content remains distant from Arab American daily life. Popular with older demographics who have strong social ties with the Middle East, content is almost totally irrelevent to younger US born audiences. Arab American media outlets possess experience with the US market, however, the cost of expanding nationally has always been beyond reach.
According to the Arab American Institute, there are 3.7 million Americans who trace their roots to a Middle Eastern or North African country. This population is mostly young, educated and urban. One third of the population resides in only three metropolitan regions: New York, Detroit and Los Angeles. Chicago and Washington, DC also have a significant share of the Arab American community. Two thirds of the population concentrates in ten states.
Four major media outlets from the Middle East have either considered or are considering entering the US market. Most notable was the short lived Aljazeerah America news channel. It was in English and missed the streaming media alternative by only a few years. Insufficient interest had prevented the channel from reaching cable and satellite network audiences. Arab Radio and Television (ART) had a limited Arabic content offering with limited distribution. Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) now offers specific, branded content in other countries like Egypt, Iraq and Persia. This expansion mode might also include the growing US market. An announcement came from Rotana that it will be soon adding Rotana America to its many media offerings. These companies have a wealth of Arabic content and Arab media experience. Also, they offer streaming media channels worldwide.
The focus of programming for an Arab American Media Channel in the US Market is on these two objectives:
- Building the Arab American identity through information and entertainment.
- Building a unified, prosperous Arab American community within a large, multicultural and democratic society.
Proposed Programming for the channel:
1. Morning Program
A. General Interest (local/global)
B. News (local)
2. Day Program (global)
3. Evening News (local)
4. Prime Time (global)
5. Night News (local)
6. Night Program (global)
1. Public Affairs (local)
2. Entertainment (global)
3. Sports (global)
III. Website that houses a library of text, audio and video documents, and a social interaction medium.
Local US local origination (starting with news and public affairs and extending in the future to documentaries and entertainment produced in the US).
Global Arabic programming from countries represented heavily in the Arab American community.
News and Public Affairs are of interest to individuals residing in the United States. They originate from US metropolitan regions with heavy Arab American population concentrations (like Detroit, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, DC).