This paper provides a brief overview of the article on Viewing and avoidance of Al –Jazeera 24 hour satellite television channel. It goes further to discuss the article in relation to the theory of uses and gratification. The article relates with the article in that the article illustrates the different ways in which Al-Jazeera strives to bring the news and programs the content of the news in a manner that gratifies the needs of the viewers.
The paper goes further to explain ways in which the article supports the uses and gratification theory. This is in light of the fact that the article on Al-Jazeera explains the different stages that the satellite channel has passed through and the different developments that have been initiated to ensure proper and non bias independent presentation of news and different programs in line with the viewers needs.
Communications and Media
The article, ‘Viewing and avoidance of Al Jazeera 24 hour satellite television channel’ states the importance of watching Al Jazeera –channel that broadcasts 24 hour news and political programs (Jamal & Melkot, 2008, p. 1). The channel was established in November, 1996 in the gulf state in Qatar.
It seemed like it had renewed the BBC Arabic news channel which was dropped for criticizing the Saudi royal family. The ruler of Qatar became the main benefactor because he watched and was impressed by what the CNN reported about the Saudis.
It is mainly financed by the Qatar government despite the fact that it is able to meet approximately 15% of its costs through advertising.The government does this without interfering in the internal affairs of the channel.
The channel acts on a slogan that enables it to present itself strategically as to provide different opinions by analyzing the different sides and perspectives of new stories. It also airs talk shows that have controversial debates that aim to sensitize socially and politically related issues. Due to the authoritative coverage, it has around 310 million viewers.
Due to the fact that the state controlled the media, most viewers might avoid watching Al Jazeera because of its openness and liberalization in the media that enables it to present contents that might not be consistent with most viewers’ beliefs and values and also of the notion that its discussions create a divided Arab opinion that is believed to be indifferent towards pan Arabism.
Most people also chose the programs to watch with exclusion of the political news due to the belief that the political news was partisan and alienating.
There are mixed feelings because those who support it claim that the content is clean in terms of presentations with emphasis on the credibility, newsworthiness and fulfillment of its objectives. It is Al Jazeera that created the competition that made most media stakeholders to think of media as a serious business.
The competition introduced into the media industry was in the form of vivid and live presentations and reflective programming and news coverage.
Those who supported Al-Jazeera did so because of the belief that they watched all the contents of their presentations including the political news and still felt safe about the world they lived in, consistently understood political correctness (Jamal & Melkot, 2008, p. 8).This also helped in exposing their political leaders leading to reinforcement about their belief on politicians.
Theory of uses and gratification focuses on the final consumer of mass communication products. The consumers are therefore held responsible for their choice of media products which is consistent with their needs. It implies that the media help viewers fulfill their gratifications. The theory falls in the second paradigm of media effects i.e. the limited effects that were operational after the first paradigm was confirmed inaccurate.
The article on viewing and avoidance of Al- Jazeera 24 hour satellite television channel relates to the theory of uses and gratification in that the theory states that an audience seeks out the media to gratify a need to be informed with the facts and knowledge that Al Jazeera tends to impart on its audience.
The media makes the audience knowledgeable and confident to contribute to current issues in social situations. Al-Jazeera therefore satisfies the needs of the audience that range from cognitive, affective, personal, and integrative and socially integrative satisfactions.
The article on Al Jazeera also states the reasons why the audience uses the media including cultural socialization, personal identity, multi relations and companionship. All these gratify the needs of the audience because of their usage of the media.
The uses and gratification theory also states that there are certain characteristics that influence the need for the media, this is further emphasized by the article on Al-Jazeera in that the use of media is affected by individual behavior patterns, needs, motives, the society and daily problems.
The article on the other hand is a good example and supports the uses and gratification in several ways including; since the government controlled television model maintained traditional style of presentation, there were few audience because the mode and style of presentation of the different programs did not appeal and had no intentions of meeting the needs of most viewers until the second type of news coverage and political structure came into place.
The liberal commercial television model was adopted by the Al-Jazeera because of its emulation of the modern western style that encouraged presentation of multifaceted and critical issues of the society that were directly facing the society and in line with the needs of the viewers.
The perception and belief that most audiences were turning to Al-Jazeera because of its independence led to the last stage of coverage.
The fact that Al-Jazeera was preferred to the other channels led to the competition between the government and the private channels. This improved the newsworthiness, objectivity and freedom of expression because the government realized that these are the attributes that led to gratification of the viewers.
It also supported the uses and gratification theory by covering real life issues through their talk shows, laid the facts bare without bias based on nationality, race or gender. This is what satisfied most viewers i.e. getting the authoritative facts without any distortion or administrative limitations.
Al-Jazeera has therefore been identified by most viewers as their channel of choice because it gratifies their interests and desires and helps them develop positive expectations any time they take their time to watch this channel.
There weakness of this article is that it does not explain the viewers of Al-Jazeera in relation to age and gender.
Questions that arise from the other part of the article are
- What makes Al-Jazeera gratify the needs of the viewer?
- What are the relationship between this article and the theory of the uses and gratification?
- What are peoples needs satisfied by the media?
- What is the relationship between psychological and social origins of media?
- Why does Al-Jazeera focus only on the social and political aspects of life?
Jamal, A., & Melkot, S. R. (2008). Viewing and avoidance of the Al-Jazeera satellite television channel in Kuwait: a uses and gratifications perspective. Asian Journal of Communication, 18(1), pp. 1-15.