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How close is Arab audiovisual media to youth?

Nahla Benslama's picture

More than 700 satellite TV channels broadcast programmes in the Arab world, with topics ranging from religion and art to politics and astrology. Yet, very few of them, if any, offer “real” viewing options and programs serving the needs of the largest portion of society—youth—or broadcast the issues youth is concerned with.

Unfortunately, Arab satellite stations, whose main goal is “profits” are more and more focused on broadcasting the kinds of programs that are more likely to attract a big number of viewers without caring about what young people want to watch on TV.

Because they feel “excluded” from traditional audiovisual programming, Arab youths are compelled to switch to non-Arab radio stations and TV channels where they can express themselves and feel “included.” To make matters even worse, some of the rare youth programs broadcasted on Arab media are presented and/or prepared by “old” people. How can these programs attract the youth and meet their expectations if not made by the youth themselves?! No matter how talented the “old” TV/radio presenter can be, she/he cannot understand how young people think and react today. So the content of his/her programs may be completely different from the environment and culture of these youths.

For this reason, I think that young people must be given the opportunity to actively participate in creating and broadcasting the programs intended for young audiences, such as programs involving debate and dialogues around youth issues and interests, or those promoting their roles in society.

Ajial” (or “generations” in English), a Moroccan talk-show broadcasted in 2M TV Channel, is a good illustration of a “made by and for” youth program, which aims to better support young people to engage in active life, and also to help emerging talents in various fields to find their way. The show offers plenty of sections, including a debate on current events and projects by the program’s guests who are often young artists, college alumni, project holders and self-taught talents.

For those of you who are curious to know what “Ajial” looks like, or to compare it to other youth programs your are familiar with, here is the video of last week’s episode.

As long as audiovisual communication is considered one of the more powerful means of communication, which can have a positive impact on young people in terms of self-expression and empowerment, Arab media is responsible for providing more youth programming and involving young people in media production to better support and foster youth dialogue.

What about you? What do you think about youth programs broadcasted on your local TV?  Have you ever had an experience preparing, presenting or being a guest on a TV/radio program? Share your opinions and experiences!

Photo: © UNESCO / Dominique Roger