Al Sharqiya

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Al-Sharqiya
Type Satellite television network
Country Iraq
Availability Middle East
Owner Saad al-Bazzaz
Launch date
2004
Official website
www.alsharqiya.com/

Al Sharqiya ("The Eastern One") is Iraq's first privately owned satellite channel owned by the London, Baghdad and Dubai-based Iraqi media tycoon Saad al-Bazzaz, a secular nationalist from Mosul. Al-Bazzaz is also the Editor in Chief of the Azzaman newspaper. The station was launched in March 2004 and began regular transmission on 4 May 2004.

Al Sharqiya now has been gaining a growing audience with its mixture of popular current affairs, satire and Iraq's first reality TV programs .[1]

The satellite channel with the greatest reach in Iraq, according to a June Ipsos-Stat poll, is the Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya with 41 percent reach, followed by private Iraqi satellite channel Al Sharqiya at 40 percent.[2]

Sharqiya's founder says his current staff of 400 hopes to capture a wide audience by using political comedy and the kind of impartial news coverage unheard of during decades of rule by ousted head of state Saddam Hussein.[3]

Since its formation in March 2004, the channel has gained a reputation for its humanitarian assistance and charity work which has been aimed at cities all over Iraq. As part of a programme called ‘Reputation and Capital’ (Saya’o Surmuiya) Al Sharqiya distributed a number of grants to small-scale projects that assist the needy and disabled around Iraq. The distribution of these grants around Iraq were as follows: 39% to Basra, 10% Najaf, 10% Baghdad, 7% Amara, 6%Karbala, 5%Kut, 4% Babylon, 4%Mosul, 3%Nasriya, 3%Kirkuk 5%Other cities.

The channel’s line up for the holy month of Ramadan, including humanitarian programmes, comedies, dramas, satires, music and religion is widely watched in Iraq. Monetary aid dispensed during Ramadan to 90 of the poorest families in Iraq, equated to 1 million dollars in August 2010.

In August 2008 four staff were killed in Mosul whilst on assignment.[4] The channel's head of news, Ali Wajih, blamed the Iraqi Government's al-Iraqiyyah channel, saying their "campaign of slander" against the channel was "morally responsible" for the killings.[5]

Al Sharqiya TV was fined $87,000 on the 12th of August 2009 [6] for falsely reporting that orders had been issued to arrest ex-detainees recently released by the United States. Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the main military spokesman in Baghdad, insisted he said only that ex-detainee files would be reviewed to determine if any of them were involved in a recent uptick in bombings.

Al Sharqiya in Western Media

"The last five years have witnessed a rebirth of Iraqi drama, journalism and TV production after years of eclipse under Saddam Hussein’s regime. What is notable in this Ramadan season is the abundance of humorous and satirical shows on several channels, particularly Al Sharqiya, which is owned by the Iraqi businessman Saad Al Bazzaz and broadcast from Dubai. “We chose comedies because people suffer in Iraq and we want to entertain them,” Alaa AdDahaan, Al Sharqyia’s program editor, told Agence France-Presse recently. “Most of the Iraqi artists are based abroad after fleeing the security situation in Iraq, so all scenes were shot in Syria.” The New York Times September 23, 2009

"For many, the problem is that negative coverage by foreign-based outlets is being used to fuel Iraqi despair. Perhaps that is why Al Sharqiya broadcasts several upbeat charity programs. These include “Ramadan’s Riches,” which sponsors needy children and families, and “Your Meal On Us,” which offers needy Iraqis food, a gift of $2,000, electric appliances and a luxury edition of the Koran. Al Rashid TV airs a daily program called “Free Cash,” in which people are asked simple questions and receive the equivalent of $30 for each correct answer". The New York Times

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