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Issue 14: Letter from the Publishers

TBS 14 is an historic issue. After six and a half years and 13 issues, TBS will henceforth be published in two editions -- one online, the other printed. As of mid-June 2005, the print edition of Transnational Broadcasting Studies will be available at bookstores and by subscription through our distributor, the AUC Press. This hard-copy publication is the most visible fruit of the partnership between the Adham Center at the American University in Cairo and the Middle East Centre at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, which went into effect last winter with TBS 13.

TBS's print edition and TBS's online edition overlap in content, but their differences make each unique, and complementary.

Under "Academic Papers," the TBS print edition alone will provide, along with the strongest articles from the TBS online edition, a vehicle for formal, refereed scholarship in the field. The first contribution to this section is anthropologist Christa Salamandra's "Television and the Ethnographic Endeavor: The Case of Syrian Drama." TBS's online edition will carry abstracts of the academic papers appearing in TBS, plus material that cannot be accommodated within the necessarily restricted confines of the hard-copy edition, such as conference transcripts and book reviews.

The TBS editorial board, charged with the double-blind, peer-review process for "Academic Papers," is headed by Walter Armbrust, director of Oxford's Middle East Centre. Dr. Armbrust and many of the other scholars concerned with satellite television in the Arab and Islamic worlds who make up the editorial board have contributed articles to this first double issue, among them former US ambassador William A. Rugh, Jon B. Alterman, head of the Middle East department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, Michael C. Hudson, director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Arab Information Project at Georgetown University, and Naomi Sakr and Tarik Sabry, both of Westminster University.

Our featured theme for both the online and print editions of TBS 14 -- Culture Wars: The Arab Video Clip Controversy -- starts with Walter Armbrust's paper on social conservatism in music videos and includes popular Islamic preacher Amr Khaled's article calling for an authentic cultural voice to replace that of the "Westernized" video clip, as well as Brooke Comer's interview with controversial video clip star Ruby, and Patricia Kubala's paper on the new wave of music videos that reflect the region's religious and cultural values. In tribute to the singers who have provided so much of the grist for this mill, TBS print edition will feature Lebanese and Egyptian pop idols Nancy Agram and Ruby on the cover of its first issue.

Kubala, by the way, is one of four graduate students (the others are Stacey Philbrick Yadav, William Merrifield, and Steve Tatham) to contribute strong pieces to this issue -- a trend TBS seeks to continue by encouraging more graduate students to submit material, be it as regular articles or for the peer-reviewed "Academic Papers" section.

In the Gulf Players section, S. Abdallah Schleifer revisits the leaders among the Arab satellite channels, interviews Al Arabiya's general manager Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, and reports on major developments at both MBC and at Al Jazeera. Also in this section,Jon Alterman writes about Al Jazeera's plans for a new English-language channel, Michael Hudson analyzes the relationship between Washington and Al Jazeera, Hugh Miles, author of the recently published book Al Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that is Challenging the West, writes about international attitudes towards the controversial channel. TBS is pleased to announce Miles has signed on as a contributing editor as of this issue.

In Hearts, Minds, and the Remote Control: Is American Media Diplomacy Working?Lindsay Wise interviews Mouafac Harb, executive vice president and news director of Alhurra, and travels to the station's studios in Springfield, Va., to take a second look at this flagship of US public diplomacy efforts in the Arab World over a year after its launch. This section also includes a swingeing critique of those efforts by William Rugh, a defense of Alhurra by Walid Phares, as well as Jihad Fakhreddine's take on US public diplomacy, and an analysis of the military's failure to communicate effectively to the Arab media during the 2003 Iraq War written by Lt. Commander Steve Tatham, Royal Navy spokesman for military operations during the conflict.

Elsewhere in this bumper issue of TBS, you'll find Magda Abu-Fadil, Joel Campagna, Humphrey Davies, Noha El-Hennawy, Amina Khairy, Joe Khalil, Charles Levinson,Marc Lynch, Summer Said, Maha Shahba, and The Guardian's Brian Whitaker, all addressing aspects of Arab and Islamic word satellite broadcasting, from censorship to religion to marketing, as well as conference reports and our regular Book Reviews section (edited by Ralph D. Berenger), Hamid Ouddane's Technical Review, Resource Documents (featuring the Egyptian Radio and Television Union's Code of Conduct), and the Satellite Chronicles section, now dramatically expanded thanks to the cooperation of BBC Monitoring. TBS also is pleased to be able to reproduce the most recent subscriber-only reports on "Credibility of Satellite News Channels in Greater Cairo," "Credibility of Satellite News Channels in Jordan," and "Jordan Media City Update" from the Amman-based Arab Advisors Group, which has emerged as an important professional resource for both the broadcasting and telecommunications industries.

Again, welcome to an historic issue.


S. Abdallah Schleifer and Walter Armbrust
Publishers and senior editors, Transnational Broadcasting Studies

About S. Abdallah Schleifer & Walter Armbrust

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