BBG Research Series: Channeling Iraq, media consumption across the country

In Iraq, TV ubiquitous and internet use rising

Amid major political transitions and conflict, Iraq remains a market dominated by TV. This is despite the attention given to ISIL’s use of Internet and new media, according to new data issued today by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup.

“Television has nearly ubiquitous viewership across Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan,” said Diana Turecek, director of audience research for the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). “While lower than neighboring countries, past-week Internet use has grown to 40% of adults — and 82% of those users rely on it for news.”

The research revealed a politically divided and transitioning country, and this is reflected by differing media patterns across regions. In ISIL-controlled Anbar and Ninevah provinces, young men (15–34) who are poorly educated and struggling economically have high rates of TV usage (91%) but low levels of trust in it, with only 11% reporting that they “strongly trust” what they consume. On the other hand, a smaller percentage of that group used the Internet in the past week for news (28%), but an impressive 28% of those users say they strongly trust the platform.

The research highlighted “information hubs” in Baghdad — those that consume news multiple times per day and share it daily. These “information hubs” have a more diverse media diet, and use a variety of media for news each week including television (93%), the Internet (46%) and SMS (35%).

These findings indicate that the best media avenues to reach Iraqis during this turbulent political period depend on the audience you are trying to reach.

According to Gallup World Poll data, while regions are politically divided, the entire country shares grim attitudes towards worsening economic conditions. Most find it difficult to live on their present income (59%), lack enough money for shelter (50%) and have experienced food insecurity (47%).

“While regions are divided on political opinions, life evaluation as well as perceptions on bread and butter issues have worsened across the board in recent years,” said Mohamed Younis, senior analyst and senior practice consultant with Gallup.

About the BBG

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international media. Its mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí). BBG programming has a measured audience of 278 million in more than 100 countries and in 58 languages.