The “Presumed” Influence of US International Broadcasting: Understanding Arab Audiences’ Responses to Al-Hurra Television


  • Aziz Douai


Despite the significant relevance of the “cultural imperialism” framework to our understanding of how communication flows influence “militarization,” war and hegemonic foreign policies, critical theorists have not adequately investigated how foreign audiences have responded to the recent wave of US international broad-casting. To address this gap, this article investigates how foreign media audiences interact with international broadcasting by analyzing Al-Hurra’s reception among Arabic speaking audiences. Using a critical media audience reception framework, this article situates Al-Hurra within the larger context of US international broadcasting emanating from the Cold War as a strategic weapon to influence the attitudes of foreign publics. Specifically, these field research-based findings indicate that audiences’ “negative” and “hostile” perceptions of Al-Hurra messages curtail the influence of the broadcaster’s impact on Arabs’ attitudes toward political re-form. Finally, the study also proposes a loose “taxonomy” that can be used to understand the complex reactions of foreign audiences to US international broadcasting.