Yemen TV Channel: More Hard Work, Please… [Archives:2000/06/Viewpoint]

February 7 2000

A few days ago, I received a good friend of mine who works in the ROY TV Channel 1; alias, the Yemeni Satellite Channel. As soon as we started chatting, I could feel the deep sorrow in his voice and reactions. He told me how sorrowful he is as he suffered a lot from the current circumstances. “You know why we are at the rear of the list among all Arab channels? Because corruption is eating away any chance of improvement in any field.”Later, he admitted that he has not been paid his January salary, saying, “Despite the fact that Ramadan brought the channel revenue of millions of Yemeni Rials, yet we poor employees have not been paid.”Whoever sees the advertisements in the channel realizes that it is quite difficult to assume that it is short of financial resources. On the contrary, the monopoly status enjoyed by the public audio and video channels is, in itself, a factor that gives the channel more money. Why do we have to blame everything on the economic conditions? I believe that indeed, as my friend said, there are corrupt individuals in the establishment who cause this delay in improvement and development in the public TV channel.
I remember a joke has been said about Yemen’s channel, and was published in one of the profound newspapers in the region, and it goes like this.
Q: How does a Jordanian wife punish her husband?
A: By forcing him to watch Yemen’s TV Channel for the whole day!
This indeed might seem funny for Jordanians, but it confirms that Yemen’s TV Channel needs to be enhanced. Its material, which is mostly not local, is up to any international standards. During the last 30 years, not much has been done to achieve an acceptable level of quality local programs that the audience can benefit from. The style is the same, even in the news programs, the same dull news reporting continues. Even advertisements are the boringly the same.
Let’s take for example advertisements. There are some advertisements that seem to be more than 7 years long. Who in earth will ever think that this advertisement is catchy? The audience has already memorized its contents. Shouldn’t there be some change?
Most channels all over the world prohibit the repeating of advertisements over 5 or so years because that does not only reflect an image of boredom and dullness in the channel, but it also discourages the audience of looking after the product, because it is the same old product that has been in the market for 7 years or so.
Being one of the ones who rarely watch the local channel, when I know there is another far better choice, I would like to give an advice. Running a TV channel is a huge responsibility, it is not running it for the sake of having it just be operational, but is should be operating in a way that attracts more watchers, more advertisers, and most important of all, should compete with other Satellite channels.
Frankly speaking, the Yemeni Satellite Channel lacks professionalism and good contents that benefit all the sectors of the community. It should include more documentary programs, more interactive programs, more competition between programs within the same channel, and more important, more culture. I have heard of a lot of advertisers, and TV announcers, all complaining from the same thing: Bureaucratic routine, and complications that are caused by the Economic Sector of the TV and Radio Association.
I believe that if these complications continue, we will not only fall further in the list, but will suddenly have others who do not have access to satellite channels to buy their own dishes and divert from the channel. Let us start looking into privatization of the public audio and video channels airwaves. That is the only way.
If conditions continue, who might still be watching the Yemeni TV? I would not be surprised if the virtual answer would be “no one!” 
Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf        
Chief Editor