MBN is an Arabic-language news organization with a weekly audience of more than 25 million people in 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, countries Freedom House deemed “not free” or “partly free” in 2016. MBN networks support democratic values by expanding the spectrum of ideas in the region and engaging audiences to share perspectives.
MBN consists of two television networks (Alhurra and Alhurra-Iraq); Radio Sawa; Afia Darfur; Alhurra.com; RadioSawa.com; Irfaasawtak.com and various social media platforms. The networks broadcast news and information from their headquarters in Northern Virginia, along with bureaus in Cairo, Dubai, Jerusalem, Beirut, Erbil, Rabat, Baghdad, and Washington, DC. MBN has correspondents throughout the Middle East and North Africa. MBN’s networks provide an undistorted line of communication with the people of the Middle East and North Africa.
Alhurra is a 24/7 Arabic-language television network that provides news and analysis to more than 17 million viewers each week. Its in-depth discussion programs provide points of view from throughout the region and the U.S.
Radio Sawa attracts young audiences by playing contemporary Arabic and Western music with news and information programs. It is one of the most popular radio stations in the countries where it can be heard on FM.
Tackling topics not found in other media outlets, Alhurra and Radio Sawa are connecting with Arab audiences. They are regularly cited for their trustworthy news and have been recognized with numerous awards for their on-air content.
MBN Digital provides original reporting and interactive posts on Facebook and integration within on-air broadcasts. Primetime newscasts and current affairs programs incorporate social media into their daily lineups.
Together, these networks deliver accurate and objective information on the region, American policies and Americana with a broad range of perspectives and an open dialogue on issues of importance to the audience.
MBN operates under a grant from the BBG.
Budget: $105.7 million in FY 2013
Outlets: Alhurra TV, Radio Sawa
Broadcast Hours: 683
Headquarters: Springfield, VA
MBN’s mission is to provide objective, accurate, and relevant news and information to the people of the Middle East about the region, the world, and the United States. MBN supports democratic values by expanding the spectrum of ideas, opinions, and perspectives available in the region’s media.
In 2015, Alhurra launched two new interactive call in programs, Ask Nabila and DardeshTAG. Both programs provide Arab youth an opportunity to be heard and participate in dialogue about important topics. They brought together Alhurra’s digital and broadcast properties to discuss topics such as privacy laws, identity theft and the rights of women and youth.
Radio Sawa re-established the popular morning show, Morning Papers, on the Iraq stream. The program focuses on political, social and cultural issues impacting Iraqis. Previously airing on Radio Free Iraq, Morning Papers explores what Iraqis are thinking through person on the street interviews, calls from Iraqis and Facebook posts expanding the discussion.
RAISE YOUR VOICE
In September 2015, MBN launch the Raise Your Voice campaign to amplify and provide a platform for moderate voices to disavow extremism through television, radio, and digital (web, social, mobile) platforms. Raise Your Voice encourages Iraqi citizens to speak out against extremism and the underlying causes of terrorism. By identifying the issues ISIL is exploiting, Iraqis can propose solutions that will ultimately undermine ISIL’s narrative. The Raise Your Voice social media properties, call-in radio show and television programming provide forums for activists, youth and others to share their ideas on sectarian relationships, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. The new Alhurra programming offers powerful personal testimonies that reveal the realities of life in ISIL territory and the pain and suffering ISIL inflicts on families and communities.
The Raise Your Voice digital component amplifies moderate voices addressing the underlying issues that lead to extremism, such as unemployment, religious intolerance, and lack of rights for women and minorities. Each week the campaign introduces a new topic that the audience is invited to engage on. The social media properties provide input on a select topic from reporters and the wider community. The website features essays, investigative reports, Facebook Live discussions, infographics, short videos, discussion summaries around a selected theme at the root of violent extremism. Community managers provoke and moderate discussion on social media.
The new Raise Your Voice daily call-in radio show serves as a platform to discuss and debate the effects of terrorism, extremism, and intolerance. It invites discourse with the hosts, guests in Baghdad, and among listeners. Additional Raise Your Voice television shows provide a platform for perspectives of NGOs, Iraqi students, and academia on current and future challenges; showcase local acts of heroism in confronting these challenging times; and explore the view from Northern Iraq.
Another television element of the Raise Your Voice is the weekly documentary series Delusional Paradise featuring stories of families who have suffered at the hands of ISIL. The series consists of first-hand accounts of families and friends of ISIL recruits. Delusional Paradise exposes ISIL’s true nature highlighting its hypocrisy and countering its false claims of acting in the name of religion.
Both anecdotal feedback posts, as well as research by Gallup, show that MBN is having an impact in the region.
- Alhurra and Radio Sawa are citied as a source of news by media outlets across the region on a daily basis.
- On Radio Sawa’s interactive call-in programs a listener called in to say…We fight Daesh by standing together against it. I live in Hawijah and go to the upper floor to listen and participate in your program. If Daesh catches me they will kill me.
- A woman in Mosul posted on the Raise Your Voice Facebook page…You ask us to share our stories, I have thousands of stories, but I have been waiting for someone that will listen. We are hoping you will save us, or least support us with words.
- A national survey in Iraq showed that MBN are reaching large audiences and shaping the way many Iraqis think about violent extremism and ISIL. Among past week Alhurra viewers:
- 44% agreed that something they saw on Alhurra led them to think differently about ISIL.
- 59% agreed strongly that Alhurra provides important information about ISIL.
- Alhurra’s coverage won the People’s Choice Award from the Association for International Broadcasting for the best international broadcast coverage of the democratic uprisings and the Arab Spring for its coverage of the Egyptian Revolution.
- New York Festivals® International Radio Program named Sawa Magazine a finalist for its report on a movement using the Internet to raise awareness about oppression of women in the Arab World.
- Alhurra’s Al Youm was named a finalist of New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards in the human interest category for its examination of child labor abuses in Egypt.
- Radio Sawa’s The Free Zone was named a finalist for the New York Festivals International Radio Program and Promotions Awards in the human interest category for its examination of child marriage and forced divorce in Saudi Arabia.
- Alhurra’s original documentary, Konoungo: The Darfurian Exile, profiling the humanitarian crisis facing Darfurian refugees, received top billing at the third annual Cairo Human Rights Film Festival.
- The Kulwathe Cultural Forum awarded Alhurra for the best political and cultural talk shows and named Falah El-Thahabi best male journalist and Rafal Mahdi best female correspondent.
- Correspondent Ahmad Arram was given the “Courage in Journalism” Award by the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq for his TV reporting on alleged fraudulent land deals by the Iraqi government.
- The Pan Arab Web Awards Academy awarded Radio Sawa first prize for website excellence in the Media-TV and Radio category.