Research Articles

The War on Ideas: Alhurra and US International Broadcasting Law in the ‘War on Terror’



Numerous non-Arab states employ international broadcasting agencies to impact the Arab media mix. This article examines the recent American intervention into the Arab public sphere – via its satellite television network, Alhurra (‘the free one’) – and the inherent norms promoted by these efforts. The regulations guiding the American government’s international broadcasting efforts establish certain standards and guidelines that can explain why Alhurra’s credibility suffers and audience remains scant – it is more accountable to domestic political actors than it is to the audiences it is trying to reach. The structure of political oversight established by American international broadcasting law resembles the top-down authoritarian model of media governance common to many Arab regimes. This suggests that reconstructing Alhurra as an independent network able to push ideational envelopes and facilitate cross-national exchange without the burden of its current imperative, selling deeply unpopular American polices, should be considered.

Keywords: war on terror, public diplomacy, international broadcasting, Alhurra

How to Cite: Youmans, W. (2017) “The War on Ideas: Alhurra and US International Broadcasting Law in the ‘War on Terror’”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 6(1). doi: