Radio Sawa Is Number One In Iraq, New Survey Shows

Radio Sawa, the U.S. Government-funded, Arabic-language station, is the most popular international radio in Iraq’s three largest cities, with nearly half the residents tuning in on a weekly basis, a new survey shows.

The survey, conducted by D3 Systems Inc., of Vienna, Va., in Baghdad, Mosul and Basra said Radio Sawa has an average weekly listenership of 48.9 percent, making it the number one international broadcaster surveyed.

According to the survey, 43 percent of adults respondents in Baghdad listen to Radio Sawa, 46 percent in Mosul, and 69 percent in Basra. More than 50 percent of the women surveyed listen to Radio Sawa weekly. A similar figure was seen for those under age 30 and for those having a secondary education or higher.

The survey, conducted from October 19-November 3, 2003, consisted of 1,000 face-to-face interviews: 500 people were interviewed in Baghdad; 300 in Mosul and 200 in Basra. (Baghdad is Iraq’s largest city with about 5.6 million people; followed by Mosul, 1.7 million; and Basra, 1.3 million.)

Researchers for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees all U.S. nonmilitary international broadcasting including Radio Sawa, said the survey data should be considered preliminary but indicative of current international radio use.

The survey also showed Radio Monte Carlo enjoying an average listenership of 39.2 percent; the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 30.4 percent; and Radio Free Iraq (RFI), 10.3 percent. RFI is run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which is an entity of the BBG.

Radio Sawa’s popularity in Iraq tracks with an earlier survey done by ACNielsen in five other Middle Eastern countries. The survey, conducted in July and August 2003, showed Radio Sawa with an average listenership of 31.6 percent among the general population 15 years and older. Listener rates in five countries were: Egypt 10.6 percent; Jordan, 30.4 percent; Kuwait, 39.5percent; Qatar, 40.8 percent and United Arab Emirates (UAE), 36.6 percent.

Radio Sawa, a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Arabic-language network, broadcasts objective, balanced, up-to-the minute news and news analysis combined with an upbeat mix of the best Western and Arabic pop music. The service targets Iraq with between five and six hours daily of special news and current affairs programs that deal with issues affecting Iraqis, including reconstruction, political and social events.

Listeners in Iraq can hear Radio Sawa on FM transmitters in Baghdad, Erbil, Sulimaniya and Basra. The service is transmitted on AM frequencies from Kuwait. In addition, Iraqis can access Radio Sawa on shortwave, via the Internet ( and on digital audio satellite.

The BBG is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); Radio Free Asia (RFA); Radio and TV Mart