U.S.-backed Iraqi TV: not winning hearts and minds:
BAGHDAD -- In gasoline lines stretching up to half a mile and coffeehouses darkened by power outages, the questions flow steadily:
When will there be enough electricity for hot water to shave?
Who's to blame for a fuel shortage in a country with some of the world's richest oil reserves?
Will it ever be safe enough to send our children to school?
Yet when the current president of Iraq's Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi, went on national television last weekend to face reporters, those were not the questions posed by the staff at the station, al-Iraqiya. They asked about the trip by an Iraqi delegation to the United Nations and plans to train some police outside the country.
Nine months after U.S. forces closed Iraq's state-run television stations and subsequently launched the new channel with promises of a democratic dawn for the country's news media, the Pentagon-sponsored station has not won the trust of many Iraqis. By seeking to cast the U.S. occupation in the most favorable light, al-Iraqiya may actually be losing the war for viewers' hearts and minds.
"Al-Iraqiya is failing," said Jaafar Saddiq, assistant dean at Baghdad's College of Media. "It's technically backward. Its message is not convincing. It can't compete with other stations."...
And yet the speech is so free on al-Iraqiya!
For months, al-Iraqiya declined to broadcast reports about attacks by Iraqi insurgents on U.S.-led forces, Dhari said. He noted that the station in recent weeks had begun to cover such violence. But the reports are often less detailed and more sporadic than those in the Western news media and on the Arabic satellite television channels.
The station has also refrained from airing some dispatches because of concerns they could incite anti-American feelings, current and former employees said....
Al-Iraqiya's management has banned newscasters from using the word "occupation" to describe the presence of U.S.-led forces in the country, though the term is common in the Western media and acknowledged by U.S. officials to accurately describe the current situation. Station employees said the term casts U.S. forces in a negative light.
And the programming is so exciting!
...the station provides an open forum for U.S. and Iraqi officials. In a program that aired several times last week, two spokesmen from the U.S. provisional administration and the Governing Council were shown over coffee at a local restaurant, talking for a half-hour about U.S. plans to transfer political control this year.
Hey, if that doesn't work for them, maybe they just hate freedom.