|Title||BBC Arabic TV Service and the Lebanese Audience(s): Can They Engage with Each Other?|
Foreign Arabic speaking channels exist for a reason: to influence. The birth of these channels has been in reaction to political developments which press the nations they are attached to, to speak to foreign audiences. They form one of the most reliable tools for a country’s practice of soft power. BBC Arabic service is no exception. The urge to speak to Arab audiences was related to the high rivalry that the service faced from other pan-Arab channels.
Within this context, this study investigates the relationship between BBC Arabic TV and the Lebanese audiences by exploring how BBC Arabic service and the audiences see, perceive and understand each other. The research studies the Arabic service from a political and economic perspective to understand how its milieu impact and influence its relationship with the British establishment as well as the audiences. In addition, critical discourse analysis is used to explore the discursive language BBCATV uses in speaking to audiences by analyzing four BBCATV produced documentaries.
This research also studies the Lebanese audiences to understand if what BBCATV offers resonate with their needs, how they see BBCATV, what they expect of it and how they think it sees them. The fieldwork of this study takes place in Lebanon and among the young and educated whom the channel aims to address. The data was obtained through doing focus groups where participants watched and discussed the four documentaries.
The results show that BBCA is governed by its milieu and that it still speaks to the audiences as if it is isolated and in need of BBCA to educate and inform them. The findings from the Lebanese audience’s data showed that they have a lack of trust of BBCATV because of its identity as a British organization; they expect media to engage in their societies’ causes therefore they feel detached from BBCATV. The findings also showed that the Lebanese audiences are diverse and have different needs, different expectations of BBCATV and different interpretations to how BBCATV sees them.
To conclude, the study shows that Arab audience is in fact audience(s) which is seen, understood and addressed by BBCATV as one lump and which stems from an imperialist perception of the Arab world as one which needs change and modernization according to the western model whether in values or politics.
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