Yemen TV on Trial [Archives:1999/16/Reportage]

April 19 1999

Media plays an important role in the different areas of the life of the people, particularly in our modern age, where the cultural communication between nations has become very close. In other words, it has a paramount role in shaping the public opinion, educating as well as entertaining the rank and file. In short, this age is described as the age of information and media. However, the pivotal role of the media can be visibly noticed in democratic societies, where it is honored with the position of “fourth estate”, for it works very hard to correct misdeeds. To make this easy, the TV / RADIO media in a society like Yemen where the illiterate people rate is staggeringly estimated at 87% and around 70% of the population live in the countryside where the written media doesn’t reach, is still having a top priority in shaping the public opinion. The Yemeni TV is my concern here. It is lashed by a large number critical remarks from many people. I will leave the evaluation of its work to its audience, who seem to be wholly fed up. Some people are blessed with the other Arab and international TV channels, yet some others are still troubled by the terrible programs of our TV. I should say that I am not interested in criticizing for the sake of criticism, rather I have tried to see the Yemeni Satellite TV channel’s audiences’ opinion of their TV. It is these people who can judge it well and their constructive comments that might help improve its work if these notes are taken into account. This is because the TV in is still monopolized by the government which should either improve the performance of the current channel, or let independent TV channels be launched.
In short, I talked with different Yemeni people who candidly and openly gave their comments as follows:
1- Abdulrahman Al-Huthaifi
Taiz University
To call a spade a spade, one must say that the Yemeni Satellite TV channel has made few strides ahead since it was established. But, there are certain shortcomings which I think can be avoided easily if the people in charge are willing to do it. The first thing is that some of its announcers are not well-qualified and the result is a poor performance. What is unfortunate is that if any announcer tries to distinguish himself as a talent, he/she is taken over to another rich Arab channel.
Under the pretext of encouraging talented persons, the Yemeni TV is unconsciously doing harm to our great heritage of Yemeni songs by presenting persons wrongly called singers whose performance gets on our nerves, while ignoring very famous ones who have made great contributions in promoting Yemeni songs.
Another point is that all serials are taken from other channels where they have been already presented. Thus only those who are not blessed by the satellite can see them for the first time. This is a problem, for we have directors and actors who could do wonders if they are give chance.
2- Rafeeq Musleh Ad’Dubais
In spite of the improvements made by Yemeni TV so far, we have some reasons that are separating us from it. The people operating the Yemeni TV do not consider the audience at all. Let me tell you how. In addition to their boring programs, they even say something and do something else. To be more clear, they something announce that they will present a particular program after, for instance, the 9 o’clock news.
This makes us wait for it, but surprise, we get to watch a different program. What do you call this? Carelessness, indifference or what? Isn’t that disappointing and disgusting too? Another thing is that the Yemeni TV broadcasts it programs to its audience in Yemen for a specific period of time, they can watch it only after 2:00 p.m. which is completely different from other Arab satellite channels which broadcast for both local and overseas audience equally. Besides, some programs have a good start but unfortunately, after some time they become boring and monotonous.
3- Nada Yahia Qanber
In my point of view, the Yemeni TV has made some good steps recently. This is if we compare it with how it was in the past. However, it is not able to complete the other Arab and international TV channels. In fact, it doesn’t reflect the real picture of Yemen. The choice of the programs is supposed to attract and draw the audience. Rather, the programs are very boring and are not innovative. This makes people search for their solace and distraction in some other channel. In other words, it seems that there is not a well-thought out plan for the people in authority for creating programs that could educate our society, which badly needs a real information and cultural revolution. The entertaining programs, moreover, are not presented in appropriate times. The announcers, who are not less important than the programs themselves, lack many qualities that are necessary for announcers to talk smoothly, easily and coherently on television. Watching them, one really feels unhappy because they are not educated fully so as to be able illuminated and enlighten the society. The reason is that most of them join the TV through favoritism and nepotism, the two main headaches of a country that has lost many talents.
4- Ibtihaj Mahdi Abdullah
Karate Player
I think that instead of talking about the pros and cons of any TV channels, we should talk about the potentials and factors of success of any channel, comparing it with the others.
Actually, I am not very much interested in watching the Yemeni TV for longer periods of time, since we have been arrested by the highly delighting, entertaining and diversified programs of the other channels. I believe our TV could make some good strides ahead if it considers the following notes:
1- The kind of decoration that is suitable for each program. We find that in our TV no attention is given to this thing which really affects the presentation and efficiency of the programs.
2- Another point inviting the attention of the people in charge of our TV is that the announcers should be very qualified should they can attract the people to our TV.
Unfortunately, most of our announcers seems to be unaware of how improve their potential and skills. If one watches them clearly, he/she can notice that they commit many linguistic errors. They can’t talk easily and often have to refer to the text in front of them.
3- Improving the quality of the programs and avoiding repetition of very old ones which people are very much fed up with.
4- We also notice that the amount of news items is very abundant. Moreover, the presentation of the news is very monotonous for they start with the local news. In other words, they do not consider the importance of the event or the news item.
5- Ibtihal Ahmad Al-Adimi
As a matter of fact, when our TV started satellite broadcasting, we expected that a radical change would take place. To the contrary, we have missed a good many useful programs like Malaga Atalfazyon, Ikhtarna lakum, Surah, Alam Ageeb, Akhtaber Malumatak Wa Gawaez, etc. which I hope will be rebroadcast again. These programs delighted us a lot.
Our TV is plagued with many problems like the repetition of the programs, films and serials, the huge amount of frequently repeated news items, inefficient and unqualified announcers who help in raising the boredom of the audience. To be more frank, I sometimes prefer the Second Channel which presents useful programs. Even Al-Barnamaj Al-Maftooh has become very boring.
6-Nasim Abdulhafiz Al-Qadasi
I think everybody who watches the Yemeni TV channels and other channels can see the difference. Our TV programs are very poor with their cultural and scientific content. The way they are presented is also very poor. This make them boring and hence the audience starts looking for a better alternative and, of course, they can find it on the satellite. Therefore, they watch their own TV, picking what they like, but ignoring the Yemeni TV.
I feel certain changes have to take place so that our TV can live up to the level of the other channels which have fully succeeded in conveying their messages. That is, our announcers should be chosen from among the elite educated people. It has also to be provided with some equipment like cameras, decoration and light. New programs have to be invented. It is only in this way that our TV can flourish and be a real media instrument.
7- Dr. Ghazi Mansur Ameen
Vice Dean, Faculty of Arts, Taiz University
I no longer feel interested in watching the Yemeni TV since I found my solace in other channels which consider the interest of the watchers and are conscious of the priority of the news items. But our channel does not consider this matter. Another point which has to be raised here is that language of the announcers on our TV is very weak and unacceptable. They are also not confident while talking or reading. This makes the audience feel disgusted to see such things and repeated language mistakes. They sometimes give news items without photos, which means it might as well be broadcast on the radio. A good program that has won my interest is Sahrat Al-Khamis. But in some other programs, like Mann Al-Masool or Who Is Responsible? we find that the presenter of the program speaks more than he should. 
He wants to show that the government is not responsible for the misdeeds while in reality it is. So, the Yemeni TV needs a lot of innovations and amendments. It should also reflect that we are really in a democratic country and that democracy is a living practice. The room given to the opposition and independent thinkers and opinion-makers is not there at all. It has never hosted people like Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Saqqaf , Dr. Abu Baker Al-Saqqaf or Mohammed al-Maqalih etc. Recently, we wanted to see why some of the most famous journalists have not participated in the Journalists Conference. We want even to see some silver lining, that there is an improvement in the democracy of the media in Yemen. I think the media is a real translation of the one-track mentality of the government. The only way out is the privatization of the media in Yemen. The government should be liberal in economy, politics and media.
8- Bushra Al-Maktari
A short story teller
I feel sometimes forced to watch the Yemeni TV because I have no other choice. There are no other options easily available to me. Yemeni TV’s serials are frequently repeated and monotonous. It applies the policies of the government totally, and it doesn’t consider the interests of the people. It lacks all the means of making its programs very exciting for the viewers. It does not serve the society, since it is not interested in discussing its ordeals and problems. We do really feel that it is not meant for us. Sometimes it copies other channels even in their social issues which are not necessarily like ours. I think only the ordinary people watch it for educated people can not find the new information or interesting and amusing programs that can quench their thirst in the age of information and knowledge.
9- Dhya Hamoud Razaz
First of all, I thank you for you have brought a very important topic for discussion. We wanted this to be done by the Yemeni TV itself, for it is only through such questions that it can improve its work. The people in charge of the TV should understand that we are living in an era of information influx where it can no longer exercise a black-out on information. With the blessings of the other Arab and International channels which present everything new, Yemeni TV is being left behind. On our TV, news items, for instance, are very old and are repeated many times. Sometimes, they even cut off broadcasting of a live program or match, like what happened with Nasim’s last match, to present an outdated news item.
I believe the Yemeni TV could achieve some progress if its announcers were well trained and well paid. They should also pay more attention to the question of producing local serials.
By: Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi
Taiz Office Editor
Yemen Times