Television networks are able to influence the political and social fields in Maghreb countries to differing degrees, despite the existence of dominant forces in each country.
There are few Maghreb satellites channels promoting radical speech to influence the orientation of their viewers. There are, however, channels that adhere to moderate Islamist trends in support of moderate Islamist political parties, such as the Algerian network Echorouk and the Mauritanian channel al-Mourabitoune, which only began broadcasting this week.
These channels seek to promote conservative social values and spread religious virtues, with no political influence whatsoever.
The role and influence of such new networks is still very modest compared to Middle Eastern channels that entered Maghreb homes years ago, such as Iqraa, al-Rissala, and al-Kawthar, among others.
But discussing the role of TV channels in driving a conservative political leadership is still premature, especially in Mauritania, where the audio-visual sector was privatised only a few months ago. Mauritania has only three independent networks, including al-Mourabitoune.
The impact of electronic media in driving conservative politics in these countries largely exceeds the influence of satellite channels, as radical forces and terrorist groups promote their messages through the internet.
I cannot say, however, that religious channels will remain excluded from the creation of a conservative political opinion. The new opening process and the resulting rush to launch television networks, will inevitably present a new opportunity to transform the radical political discourse or push it forward.
The stations’ impact will still depend on how Maghreb communities receive them, something that will become apparent in the coming months.
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