Research Shows Radio Sawa Surges in Middle East; Broadcasting Board of Governors Discuss Projects with Television Executives

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) today released its first survey showing Radio Sawa (, the Arabic-language station created by U.S. international broadcasting six months ago, is the number one station among young people in Amman, Jordan.

The survey, conducted by Edison Media Research of Somerville, N.J., showed 43 percent of the respondents in the Radio Sawa target audience (17-28 year olds) listened to Radio Sawa more than any other station. The next most-listened station was the Jordanian Government’s Amman FM at 18 percent.

Radio Sawa was also number one in news among young people. Twenty-five percent of the respondents said Radio Sawa was the radio station they listened to most for news. That compared to 22 percent for Amman FM and 20 percent for MBC-FM.

“We know we’re very popular in the Middle East, but this Amman survey is the first one that shows young people in our target audience are tuning to Radio Sawa for their news and their entertainment,” said Norman J. Pattiz, a member of the BBG and chairman of its Middle East Committee.

The research was conducted in Amman between August and September 2002 among 500 radio listeners in Amman between the ages of 17 and 28 who like both Western and Arabic music. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Edison has been doing on-going research on Radio Sawa in Amman and other cities in the Middle East since the station went on the air on March 23, 2002. The research is designed to track audience attitudes towards news, music and overall station popularity.

Other survey findings also showed Radio Sawa #1 with young Jordanians:

• 86 percent of the target audience said they had listened to Radio Sawa in the past 7 days.

• 23 percent said they considered Radio Sawa to have the most up-to-date news, compared with 19 percent for Amman FM.

Asked which station provided the most accurate and trustworthy news, Radio Sawa and Amman FM were almost tied: 19 percent said Radio Sawa; 20 percent said Amman FM.

In Amman, Radio Sawa’s FM competes with well-known local and international broadcasters including Amman FM, BBC-FM, MBC-FM and Radio Monte Carlo. During the six months it has been on the air, Radio Sawa has yet to do any advertising or promotion.

Radio Sawa, a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Arabic-language “Full Service” network, is unique in the Middle East. It broadcasts an upbeat mix of Western and Arabic pop music along with up-to-the minute news, news analysis, interviews, opinion pieces, sports, and features on a wide variety of political and social issues. Radio Sawa originates its programming from Washington and is broadcast across the region, using a combination of medium wave (AM) and FM transmitters, digital audio satellite, shortwave and internet.

In another development, BBG members met with Hollywood television and entertainment executives to discuss U.S. international broadcasting initiatives, including a possible Arabic-language television network.

“This was a rare opportunity to put the leaders of U.S. international broadcasting together with the leaders of the television and entertainment industries,” said Pattiz, who organized the private luncheon at the Museum of Television and Radio.

Pattiz described the meeting as an exchange of ideas between executives of U.S. international broadcasting and private industry. He said the BBG members outlined U.S. international broadcasting projects and sought ideas and thoughts from the private executives.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is a nine-member, presidentially appointed body which supervises all U.S. government-supported non-military international broadcasting, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, VOA, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti,