|Launched||11 June 2012|
|Network||Al Mayadeen Satellite Media Network|
|Slogan||Reality As It Is|
|Website||Al Mayadeen TV|
Al Mayadeen ("The Squares" in Arabic) is a pan-Arabist satellite television channel launched on 11 June 2012 in Lebanon. The channel aims at reducing the influence of the Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya networks, both funded by oil-rich Sunni Arab countries in the Persian Gulf. It also plans to present an alternative to mainstream Arab satellite media, largely dominated by these two channels. All-news Arab TV news channel BBC Arabic and Sky News Arabia are other competitors of the channel.
Ownership and offices
The channel is part of Al Mayadeen satellite media network, including a production company, a radio station, a website, an advertising company and other media-related projects. It is stated that the owners of the channel are anonymous Arab businessmen. There are speculations about the funding of the channel. Western media claim that the channel is a propaganda platform for Iran and Hezbollah and is funded by them. Omar Ibhais, a freelance Lebanese TV producer, argued that the channel is a joint venture between the Iranians and Rami Makhlouf, cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad. However, Ghassan bin Jiddo, director of the channel, denied these claims and stated that the channel is funded by Arab businessmen whose identity he would not disclose.
The headquarters of the channel are in Beirut. It has a wide-ranging news network and three regional offices, one in Tunisia, another in Cairo with three reporters and a big studio, and a third in Tehran.
Ghassan bin Jiddo is the head of the board of directors and program director of the channel. He is the former head of Al Jazeera’s Iran and Beirut offices and a former talk show host in the channel. He resigned from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera in 2011, criticizing its reporting of the Syrian civil war. Jiddo clearly accused Al Jazeera of deviating from the professional broadcasting standards, emphasizing that Al Mayadeen would remain objective and unbiased. Nayef Krayem, the owner of the Lebanon-based Al Ittihad TV and former director of the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar TV, was designated as the general manager of the channel, but he resigned one month before its launch.
The staff of the channel include Lebanese journalists such as Sami Kulaib whose wife Luna Shibl is the media advisor to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ali Hashem, the former Al Jazeera war correspondent, who resigned from the Qatari channel for claims it refused to broadcast footage of militants on the Lebanese Syrian borders in the early days of the Syrian uprising, Zahi Wehbe, Lina Zahreddine, Lana Mudawwar, Muhammad Alloush, Ahmad Abu Ali and Dina Zarkat. Additionally, two Syrian journalists, Ramia Ibrahim and Futoun Abbasi, and two Palestinian journalists Kamal Khalaf and Ahmad Sobh as well as Yemeni Mona Safwan are also among its staff. Like Jiddo, most of the channel's staff are the former Al Jazeera correspondents and editors. George Galloway, a British MP, is a presenter for the channel.
The channel has a network of reporters in Palestine (specifically, in Gaza and Ramallah) and also, in Jerusalem. Their task is reported to provide the channel with a daily news section in the news broadcast entitled “A Window Into Palestine.” In addition, there are reporters of the channel in Amman, Tripoli, Rabbat, Khartoum, Mauritania and Comoros.
Al Mayadeen is on air for 24 hours per day. As of September 2013, the channel has ten daily news reports and nearly 17 distinct programs. One of its programs is "A Free Word", a show hosted by George Galloway.
The name of the channel, Al Mayadeen, means "the squares" in English, indicating its objective "to provide coverage for the Arab popular actions on the squares of change in the context of the Arab spring revolutions". The channel argues that it provides journalism, which is “committed to nationalist, pan-Arab and humanitarian issues within the template of professional journalistic objectivity.” In addition, it presents itself as a “free and independent media project” with 500 staff and reporters in Arab and Western capitals. Its slogan is “Reality as it is” and its editorial policy emphasizes that Palestine and resistance movements wherever they are found are its point of reference. It was also stated that the Palestinian cause is the channel's centerpiece. On the other hand, It is also argued by France 24 and Mohammed Al Jazairy of Asharq Alawsat that Al Mayadeen represents the latest expansion of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in the field of media. It is further claimed by Zeina Karam of the Associated Press that the channel's close ally in Lebanon is the powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Al Mayadeen prefers to refer to the Free Syrian Army as "terrorists," and to the actions of the Syrian government against its opponents as "cleansing" when reporting the Syrian civil war. Following its first year of broadcast the channel began to be known as "anti-Al Jazeera".
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