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“There is no secret agenda”

“There is no secret agenda”

Governor Blaya, a member of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors- which funds media outlets like the Arabic-language Alhurra channel - emphasizes that the US doesn’t dish out propaganda through broadcasts.

May 21, 2009 12:58 by

There are situations when members of the US government don’t agree with the channel’s coverage, says Blaya, but adds that the board acts like a firewall between the government and journalists. “We clearly understand the separation between the two,” he says.

That is also the reason why the board is structured to have four Republicans and four Democrats, and the Secretary of State, he says. This group is the collective CEO of this operation so that there can never be any kind of editorial control over the journalists. “And there is nothing political about international broadcasting,” he adds.

But even if the channel doesn’t face any limits from the US, what about regional restrictions?

“We have not felt any restrictions at this point of time,” says Mires. “You do have to understand where you are working, whether it’s here or other countries, you need to understand your environment so that you can make intelligent decisions. But so far we have done two or three very UAE sensitive stories. We have approached all of them – including the sheikh’s [torture tapes]. We have done them all.”

It’s about creating a balance, she says.  “We often will have a Jewish subject on the same subject and a Palestinian subject on the same subject from a satellite in Gaza or live from the West Bank and we take whatever the topic is and we approach it from both sides.”

So what is the channel looking forward to?

Expansion, says Blaya. “Today at a moment when so many things are being cut, we are not. We are expanding […] our budgets will continue to grow,” he adds.

But while the whole project sounds good and flowery, we are still skeptical about the channel not being a voice of America.

“You don’t increase your audiences through propaganda,” says Blaya [trying to convince us]. “It’s becoming more and more difficult to pull the curtain down on people […] as they will make their own choices.”

“What is important to us is to have credibility. And the only way is by reporting unfiltered news and information and balancing it. That’s the only way to remain in business for a long time,” he says.

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