Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is joining forces with Fox News boss Rupert Murdoch to launch a new 24-hour cable news channel for the world's 300 million Arab speakers. The channel, which will be run by veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, will be in direct competition with two existing channels — al Arabiya and al Jazeera — although no launch date has been announced. Is Fox's formula right for the Arab world?
Talk about strange bedfellows: Fox News — "famous for its uncomplicated, gung-ho, and pro-Israel stance" — is an odd partner for a channel looking to appeal to Arab viewers, says David Roberts at The Gulf blog. "Expect flashy, glitzy sets [and] female Lebanese anchors (probably the ones that left Al Jazeera last month) wearing an inch of makeup." That, and simplistic takes on complex issues.
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Actually, this partnership makes sense: Prince Alwaleed and Fox News' parent company, News Corp., have a history of working together, says Julian Clover at Broadband TV News. News Corp. already owns a 9 percent stake in Prince Alwaleed’s Rotana Group. And Jamal Khashoggi — who's closely linked to parts of the Saudi royal family but "was forced out of his post as editor of the daily Al-Watan after publishing an editorial that angered religious conservatives" — could provide a point of view that's missing in the region.
Fox and the Saudi royal family make a bad combo: Is introducing Fox News' "fair and balanced" news supposed to bring freedom to "the people of the Arab world"? asks Scott Rochfort in the Sydney Morning Herald. It's easy to be skeptical. Judging by the records of both parties involved, the new channel's motto could be: The Saudi royal family reports, you decide.
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