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July 12, 2011

‘TV failed to prepare viewers for Arab spring’

Filed under: Uncategorized, Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:57 am

UK broadcasters failed to prepare viewers for the ‘Arab spring’, according to a major new report by the International Broadcasting Trust and the University of East Anglia.

The report, Outside the box, reveals that Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Oman, and Yemen - which have recently experienced unrest or uprisings - were not the main subject of any factual programme in 2010. And the only programme to focus principally on Syria was the BBC4 series Syrian school. Tunisia only received significant coverage in BBC4s On Hannibal’s trail and Morocco in Channel 4’s Jamie does Marrakesh.

Despite carrying international programmes such as the consumer travel series The secret tourist as well as covering developing countries in Sport relief, BBC1 is falling behind other channels in its reporting on developing countries, according to the IBT.

In total, North Africa and the Middle East received just 5 per cent of all international non-news factual coverage across UK channels in 2010. Last year, the main UK terrestrial channels broadcast fewer hours of new international factual programming than at any time since IBT began its annual reports in 1989.

Martin Scott, the report’s author and a lecturer in media and international development at the University of East Anglia, commented: ‘The results of this study strongly suggest that UK television left audiences remarkably unprepared for these momentous events. Public opinion and public debate in the UK about the Arab spring is surely the worse for UK television’s persistent failure to cover adequately this part of the world.’

He continued: ‘I’m not suggesting that the BBC and other broadcasters should have predicted the Arab spring but that they have not lived up to their responsibility to give audiences the opportunity to understand better this part of the world.’

- Download the full PDF of the report from

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