Professor Christina Slade, Dean of the Schools of Arts and Social Sciences, recently presented her research on the impact of international Arab-Language television on cultural and political identities to the European Commission.
The project was led by Professor Slade in her honorary role as Professor of Media Studies at the University of Utrecht and funded under the EU 7th Framework Programme.
Conducted jointly with academics from across Europe, the research involved analysing patterns of media use among Arabic speakers in Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris, London, Berlin and Stockholm.
By analysing the viewing habits of more than 2,000 participants, the researchers found that different patterns of viewing behaviour varied depending on country of origin, but that overall Al Jazeera was the leading source of Arab speaking news within the region.
Professor Slade says that the research shows that with convergence and the increasing prevalence of international television made possible through satellites, cultural and political boundaries have become blurred and previous concepts of ‘citizenship’ have become outdated.
“The boundaries which previously controlled media for so long no longer exist. With international television and the ability to access news online, media is increasingly becoming international.
“But this doesn’t necessarily pose a threat. We often hear that the use of ethnic media among Arabic speakers in the EU is a threat to traditional cultures. Our research indicates that there is no particular danger posed by international television.
“In fact, there is a need for policy makers to take into account the highly complex nature of European cultures as reflected within our media landscape when developing immigration policies. Citizenship tests, for instance are based on outdated notions of what it means to be a part of a modern European society.”