Window to the Middle East
Window to the Middle East is an ongoing media exhibit that looks at television from Israel, Iran, and the Arab world. It provides an opportunity to see some of the programming that the peoples of the region are watching themselves, and it reports on various ongoing panels that the Paley Center participates in about media and this region of the globe.
Most Americans know little about the world of Middle East television beyond high-profile satellite news channels like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya and the fiery anti-West rhetoric reported about in so many news stories. In fact, the Middle East is home to over three hundred channels—some state-run, others private, commercial enterprises—that offer all genre of programming: news, films, talk shows, sports, comedy, soap operas, music videos, drama, and children’s shows, in addition to religious programming, which plays an especially prominent role in the region. Like Americans, Middle Easterners watch television not just for information and nourishment, but also for relaxation and escape, to laugh or be swept away by dramatic narrative. “In many respects,” according to USC Annenberg School for Communication senior fellow Gordon Robison, “the Arab TV landscape is a much more familiar place, and far less dogmatic overall, than most Americans imagine.” Middle Eastern neighborhoods are dotted with satellite receivers atop houses, as the vast majority of people watch “free to air,” meaning without subscribing to any particular satellite or cable service..