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Radio Sawa: The Creation of a New U.S. Government Arabic Service
Unformatted Document Text:  (RMCME) and the BBC. Part of the reason for this is the power and proximity of the mediumwave facilities for the BBC and RMCME, and in the late 1990s local FM rebroadcasts of both services in cities such as Amman, Jordan, and Doha, Qatar (Boyd, 1999). However, the lack of popularity and credibility in the Arab world vis-à-vis competitors such as the BBC and RMCME cannot be attributed only to lack of adequate mediumwave delivery or local rebroadcasts. In November 1992, under contract to the United States Information Agency (then the parent organization to VOA), Beirut-based The Market Research Organization conducted focus-group research in four Arab world cities: Amman, Jordan; Manama, Bahrain; Cairo, Egypt; and Rabat, Morocco. While not a surprise to those familiar with international broadcasting to the area, some of the findings should have been a warning to VOA management. For example, panelists noted that the BBC was given high marks for having their own correspondents in the area and RMCME for featuring correspondents that several panelists even knew by name. Not only were, “No VOA correspondents in the Arab world . . . known by group participants,” but also: [The] Voice of America was derided not only as the “voice of the American government,” but also as the “voice about America.” Its image in the discussion groups was one of putting too great a focus on internal American matters, and showing too little interest in the countries receiving VOA broadcasts. (“VOA Programming in,” 1993, p. 12) On October 30, 1998, from studios located in Prague, U.S.-funded Radio Free Iraq started broadcasting to the Arab world from an undisclosed location--for fear of Iraqi attempts to destroy it. Shortwave transmitters in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Greece are used to deliver the daily program. The service--fashioned after and operated by the administration of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)--was authorized by a Republican-led U.S. Congress frustrated over the fact that Saddam Hussein remained in power (Radio free Iraq, 1998). In late 1998, the U.S. eliminated the United States Information Agency, and its non-broadcasting activities became part of the

Authors: Boyd, Douglas.
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(RMCME) and the BBC. Part of the reason for this is the power and proximity of the
mediumwave facilities for the BBC and RMCME, and in the late 1990s local FM rebroadcasts
of both services in cities such as Amman, Jordan, and Doha, Qatar (Boyd, 1999). However,
the lack of popularity and credibility in the Arab world vis-à-vis competitors such as the BBC
and RMCME cannot be attributed only to lack of adequate mediumwave delivery or local
rebroadcasts.
In November 1992, under contract to the United States Information Agency (then the
parent organization to VOA), Beirut-based The Market Research Organization conducted
focus-group research in four Arab world cities: Amman, Jordan; Manama, Bahrain; Cairo,
Egypt; and Rabat, Morocco. While not a surprise to those familiar with international
broadcasting to the area, some of the findings should have been a warning to VOA
management. For example, panelists noted that the BBC was given high marks for having
their own correspondents in the area and RMCME for featuring correspondents that several
panelists even knew by name. Not only were, “No VOA correspondents in the Arab world
. . . known by group participants,” but also:
[The] Voice of America was derided not only as the “voice of the American
government,” but also as the “voice about America.” Its image in the discussion
groups was one of putting too great a focus on internal American matters, and
showing too little interest in the countries receiving VOA broadcasts. (“VOA
Programming in,” 1993, p. 12)
On October 30, 1998, from studios located in Prague, U.S.-funded Radio Free Iraq started
broadcasting to the Arab world from an undisclosed location--for fear of Iraqi attempts to
destroy it. Shortwave transmitters in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Greece are used to
deliver the daily program. The service--fashioned after and operated by the administration of
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)--was
authorized by a Republican-led U.S. Congress frustrated over the fact that Saddam Hussein
remained in power (Radio free Iraq, 1998). In late 1998, the U.S. eliminated the United
States Information Agency, and its non-broadcasting activities became part of the


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