TV as a Powerful Wind of Change

A sign of democracy's failure to take root in the Arab world is the way authoritarian regimes muzzle the local media. So when the al-Jazeera satellite channel began its broadcasts in 1996 from the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, more than a digital revolution was born. For the first time, Arabs were able to watch news programs and talk shows in their own language and assembled by independent journalists rather than by government propagandists.

Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 53, the Emir of Qatar, has shouldered the political burden and financial cost of sponsoring al-Jazeera. With an estimated 35 million...

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