Reality Television Dominant Strategies on the Arab Audiences

Abstract

The development of the humanity is characterized by the great advances scholars and researchers have made in the areas of technology and communications. Television as one of the crucial areas of human interest nowadays has been subject to the changes connected with those advances. This investigation focuses on the development of reality television, digital television, and multiplatform industry strategies in the Arab television industry over the recent years. Scholars have found interesting data about the causes of Arab television transformation as well as the sources of the latter. Scholars pay much attention to considering the development of multi­platform reality formats, liveness, and eventfulness as the main techniques that facilitate the development and improvement of the Arab television nowadays. In this respect, great importance is attributed to the role of modern technology, digital and satellite television and its influences upon Arab audiences in the modern Arab world. As well, the influence of the Western television development trends upon Arab television is widely considered. Therefore, this research aims at both considering the findings of previous research in the area of Arab reality television development and carrying out the new investigation of the reality television dominant strategies on Arab audience. The current investigation operates with adequate methodologies for research development, data collection and data analysis. The clear structure of the research that includes specifically outlined research questions and objectives, the proper methodology and strong theoretical basis allow speaking of the potential for this research to contribute greatly to the knowledge of Arab reality television development. Finally, the specified timeframe allows the researchers to focus timely on every activity during the research process and carefully execute it without any hurry to avoid mistakes or unintentional errors.

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Investigation Background

The existence and development of the Arab television and other mass media has long been a mystery for the people around the world, especially in the USA and Europe. The reasons for this, as Kraidy (2002, p. 1) argues, include the lack of American and European media attention to the development of Arab world media as well as the actual absence of scholarly research in the area. At the same time, the very Arab television also developed without the awareness of the international trends of mass media functioning. According to El-Nawawy and Iskander (2002, p. 20), Kalliny (2007, p.1), and Kraidy (2002, p. 2), the early 1950s saw the emergence of the Arab television that was controlled and operated by the governments of Arab countries (El-Nawawy and Iskander, 2002, p. 21), and such an order of things lasted in the Arab world till late 1990s when Lebanon, Iraq, and some other Arab countries experimented with either half-private or completely privately owned television broadcasting (Kraidy, 2002, p. 2).

Ironically, the most powerful impact to the development t of live, real, and digital television in the Arab world was made by the Gulf War and its television representation by the CNN (Kraidy, 2007, p. 2). The ability to follow the war developments in the live regime interested many Arab television producers and consumers, and gave them an idea of the directions in which the modern Arab television would develop (Ghareeb, 2000, p. 402). After the tragic Gulf War events, scholars started observing the development of reality television, live broadcasting and free media in Arab world. The dominant strategies implemented for reality television development and their effects upon Arab audience constitute the major focus of this investigation.

Literature Review

Needless to say, scholars have taken their time during recent years to study the development of innovative telecommunication and television technologies and especially the development of reality and digital television in the Arab world. Thus, considering the general overview of the television development, the scholars from Allacademic (2009) stress the importance of the notions of liveness and eventfulness for the modern television and its perception by the audience. Davis (2007, p. 36) speaks about liveness as “a feature of all television images, whether recorded and edited prior to broadcast, or strictly ‘live’”. Thus, liveness is what makes the television interesting and attractive to audience. It is different from simple live broadcasting, and if more based on the issue of eventfulness, defined by Allacademic (2009) as the ability of television to catch public attention by the continuous flow of events that do not let the audience get bored. Thus, audience is viewed as an integral part of television development, and the notion of multi­platform reality formats is introduced to international use.

The meaning of this concept is also considered by Allacademic (2009) and scholars like Jenkins (2008, p. 25) and Ghareeb (2000, p. 404) as the ability of television to create eventfulness from almost nothing. Allacademic (2009) stresses the fact that the popular reality shows like “Pop Idol” or “Biog Brother” in the western television or As, the arab analog of the Star Academy and Pop Idol shows, or Al Raiies, the Arab Big Brother version, attract audience by eventfulness created by usual processes of establishing contests of participants, following their development, and finding out the winner. Such an interesting and lively character of television, as Kalliny (2007, p. 2) argues, is a complete opposite to what formerly limited Arab television was like. These liveness and eventfulness were the concepts that caught the attention of the Arab audience in the Western television, and these are the phenomena that, according to El-Nawawy and Iskander (2002, p. 112), allow, for example, Al Jazeera to be rather popular in the Arab countries and the whole world today.

As well, scholars like Jalboukh (2007), Hamilton (2009) and Harmon (2009, p. 1), and scholarly sources like Arabadvisors (2007) and PBS (2007) consider the issues of modernization of the Arab television, introduction of satellite television to the Arab world, and the impact of both phenomena upon the audience perception of the television in Arab countries. Thus, Jalboukh (2007) argues that modern technologies have changed the Arab world and introduced new opportunities to its citizens: “Media, internet and telecommunications play a major role in helping Saudis reach out and connect with each other and the rest of the world” (Jalboukh, 2007). Accordingly, new technologies start playing greater role in the lives of Arab people and, as Hamilton (2009) and Harmon (2009, p. 2) argue, this is another reason for the Arab television to work on reality, liveness, and eventfulness development. Arabadvisors (2007) and PBS (2007) attribute the prominent role in this process to the development of digital and satellite television.

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Research Questions and Propositions

Propositions

Thus, the review of previous research in the area of the development of multi­platform reality formats, liveness, and eventfulness of the Arab television allows seeing the gaps in the topic on covering of which the current investigation will be focused. The following sections will outline research propositions, questions, and objectives for this investigation. At this stage, the data retrieved from previous research allows proposing that:

  1. Liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats constitute the major goals of the Arab television development today.
  2. Arab television officials take measures to introduce more innovative technology, digital television techniques, and satellite television options to achieve liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats.
  3. Arab television audience perceives the modernization of television broadcasting positively, to the great extent due to the standards of liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats.

These propositions will provide the comprehensive picture of the Arab television development from both television producers’ and audience’s sides. These propositions are measurable as far as the investigation will resort to use of surveys, questionnaires, and interviews discussed in the Methodology Description section below.

Questions

In accordance with the above propositions, the following research questions are established for this investigation:

  1. What are the major goals of the Arab television development today?
  2. What is the role of liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats in the process of Arab television development?
  3. How do Arab television officials affect the development of Arab television and keeping to the standards of liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats?
  4. What are the attitudes of the audience towards the modern Arab television development?
  5. How does the audience assess the role of liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats in the process of Arab television development?

Research Objectives

The research objectives of the current investigation are derived from the above presented propositions and research questions. Basically, the primary objectives of this investigation will be to monitor the development of the Arab television and to find out the role of liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats in this process. The more specific, secondary, objectives include the need to develop applicable means of collecting and analyzing data obtained during the research, to measure those data using the specifically designed questionnaire scales, to answer the research questions and to either confirm or reject the research propositions on the basis of research data, their analysis results and implications.

Methodology Description

Data Collection Instruments

The methodology applied for the current investigation will include instruments for data collection and analysis, sampling techniques, ethical considerations, and the analysis of research limitations. The initial step in any kind of research, as Jenkins (2008, p. 137) argues, is the process of data collection, therefore the data collection instruments should be identified clearly in the current investigation. Thus, primary data, i. e. data obtained directly from television broadcasters, producers, and audience, will be collected by means of the processes of observation, questionnaire surveys and interviews, meetings of focus groups, and the analyses of texts and documents involved in the investigation. The secondary data will be continually obtained from reviews of scholarly publications concerning Arab television and innovative forces of its development. For better focus of the investigation, primary data will be collected on the gradual basis allowing the detailed consideration of one of the defined segments of respondents.

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Data Analysis Procedures

The analysis of the data obtained through the above mentioned collection procedures will be carried out in two stages. The first stage will include the calculation of questionnaire surveys results using the specifically designed scale and the analysis of interview answers obtained. The second stage of the data analysis will include synthesizing the calculated results into applicable conclusions and forming the answers to the above stipulated research questions. The analysis of secondary data should be carried out prior to the analysis of primary data to ensure the strong theoretical basis for making conclusions from the research results.

Sampling

Sampling technique is also vital for research success. The current research will resort to the use of the focused sampling that will aim at including all potentially interested groups of people in its analysis. In more detail, the investigation will attempt to sample the representatives of the television companies from Arab countries including both high ranking officials and ordinary employees. Further on, the Arab television audience will be samples according to the age, sex, marital status, and income level factors so that the investigation might give results applicable to as wide a number of people and contexts as possible in the modern society. The sampling size will be rather large to include 1000 people with the possible deviation of 20 respondents, which will allow generalizing research results for their application in wider contexts.

Ethical Considerations

Needless to say, the current investigation will pay proper attention to the ethical consideration of the research process. In other words, all issues concerning privacy policy, race, gender, sex, religion, etc. will be treated with proper attention. In more detail, the privacy of the research respondents will be ensured by the very procedure of data collection. The respondents will be asked to provide their background information including sex, marital status, age, and income level. No private data like name, race belonging, address, employment location, etc. will be requested. As well, the researchers will bare juridical responsibility for handling the requested data about the survey respondents, and in case of revealing those data the respondents will be eligible for filing law suits against the researchers.

Limitations to the Study

Naturally, the current investigation will face certain limitation conditioned by its design, scope, and the topic of research. Thus, the first limitation to the research is the fact that it is a combination of the qualitative and quantitative methods and this involves the consideration of substantial amounts of data. As a result, focus of the researchers might fail in some aspects of the data analysis which might lead to unintentional errors in research results. The second limitation to the study is the relatively small scope of research.

Although the sample of approximately 1000 people might provide widely applicable results, it will not be sufficient enough to make generalized statements about the peculiarities of Arab television development on the whole, while only the areas of liveness, eventfulness, and keeping to multi­platform reality formats in this process will be studied. Finally, the very topic of the research is its limitation as it is studied not substantially enough to provide established facts and rules of development of certain television processes. Therefore, the researchers will have to base their considerations on the existing scholarly evidence and on their own assumptions and considerations.

Timeframe of the Investigation

The following timeframe will be adopted for carrying out the above discussed proceedings of the investigation:

Activity Timeframe
Topic establishment September, 2009
Literature review October, 2009 – January, 2010
Development of research questions and objectives February, 2010 – May, 2010
Designing questionnaire and scale to measure its results June, 2010 – October, 2010
Development of interview structures and focus group meeting plans November, 2010 – January, 2011
Research process including survey, interviews, focus group meetings, etc. February, 2011 – May, 2012
Analysis of research results and making conclusions of investigation June, 2012 – September, 2012

Research Contribution to Topic Development

The contribution of this research to the general knowledge development in the topic of Arab television will be considerable first of all due to the reason that the topic is currently experiencing the lack of scholarly attention and this investigation will fill in the gap of research of Arab television development (Kraidy, 2002, p. 3). Further on, the specificity of the topic of the current investigation will provide more details to the knowledge of various areas of Arab television development and of factors influencing it. Finally, the success of this investigation will mean another proof for the efficiency of the qualitative – quantitative approach and the use of primary and secondary data in research practice.

References

Allacademic 2009, Extended Liveness and Eventfulness in Multiplatform Reality Formats, Meta. Web.

Arabadvisors 2007, Despite the drop in Arab satellite TV advertising rates between 2004 and 2005, the average rates appear to have been steady between 2005 and 2007. Arabadvisors.com. Web.

Davis, W 2007, ‘Television’s Liveness: A Lesson from the 1920s’ , Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, Vol. 4(2):36-51.

El-Nawawy, M and Iskander, A 2002 Al Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East, Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.

Ghareeb, E 2000, ‘New Media and the Information Revolution in the Arab World’, Middle East Journal, 54, no. 3, pp. 402 – 409.

Hamilton, A 2009, Television Programming Improving in Arab World. Booz Allen Hamilton. Web.

Harmon, M 2009, Arab Youth Television and “Affluenza”. Media & Society.

Jalboukh, T 2007, Arabian nights and the digital Sheherazade: the power of virtual media in the Arab world. ESOMAR, from: www.esomar.org 

Jenkins, H 2008, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, NYU Press; Revised edition.

Kalliny, M 2008, ‘Television Advertising in the Arab World: A Status Report’, Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 1 – 6.

Kraidy, M 2002, ‘Arab Satellite Television between Regionalization and Globalization’, Global Media Journal, pp. 1 – 22.

Kraidy, M 2007, ‘Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Changing Arab Information Order’, International Journal of Communication, vol. 1, pp. 139-156.

PBS 2007, Satellite Television in the Arab World. Dishing Democracy.

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