(Prague, Czech Republic--December 11, 2003) RFE/RL's Arabic-language Radio Free Iraq (RFI) service, which has significantly increased its news broadcasting presence since the fall of the Hussein regime, is attracting a strong audience in Iraq with listening rates of more than 10 percent in three major cities, according to a recent survey.
RFI Director David Newton said that listeners appreciate the in-depth original programming from all areas of Iraq that can be heard in RFI's broadcasts. Iraqis identify with the voices of RFI's Iraqi reporters and presenters, and rely on the service's ability to provide broader coverage of issues of local importance to its listeners.
Staffed primarily by Iraqis based in Baghdad, Basrah, Irbil, Kirkuk, Mosul, Sulaymaniyah and at RFE/RL's Prague Broadcast Center, RFI provides its listeners insight into breaking news, political, and military developments as well as in-depth reports and interviews on issues of special interest. The station also features a number of weekly programs on Iraqi cultural life.
RFI's special programming this month includes an on-going series on democracy in action, which follows the work of local neighborhood councils in Baghdad and focuses especially on the work of female council members. The service has also produced a 60-part serialization of Iraqi scholar Kanan Makiya's ground-breaking book "Cruelty and Silence," which details the atrocities of the deposed Hussein regime and the failure of Arab and pro-Arab intellectuals to recognize the brutality of the regime.
RFI's regular programming includes 12 five-minute news updates per day, in addition to its thirty-minute morning program five days per week, which closes with a three-minute news update; RFI's flagship program "Iraq File," a 25-minute program featuring correspondent reports and interviews; and the weekly Baghdad-based "Dialogues," with feature-length interviews with Iraqi political, cultural, and religious figures.
The survey, conducted from October 19-November 3, 2003 by D3 Systems Inc., of Vienna, Va., consisted of 1,000 face-to-face interviews: 500 people were interviewed in Baghdad; 300 in Mosul and 200 in Basra. Researchers for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees all U.S. nonmilitary international broadcasting including RFE/RL and Radio Free Iraq, said the survey data should be considered preliminary but indicative of current international radio use.
RFI is currently on the air 17 hours a day in Arabic on FM frequencies in Baghdad (102.4FM) and Basrah (105FM). Plans are also underway to increase RFI's FM broadcasting in the northern Iraqi cities of Irbil and Al-Sulaymaniyah from nine to 15 hours per day. All of the service's programs can also be accessed on shortwave and mediumwave frequencies, via direct-to-home satellite on the Hotbird3 and AsiaSat-2D satellites and on the Internet (http://www.rferl.org/bd/iq/
RFI, which has been broadcasting to Iraq since 1998, is one of three U.S. international broadcasting entities serving the Iraqi audience. Radio Sawa, a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Arabic-language network, broadcasts news and news analysis combined with an upbeat mix of the best Western and Arabic pop music. The Kurdish Service of Voice of America broadcasts four hours of programs daily on the latest U.S., world and regional news, along with correspondent reports on local developments in Iraq, and features on science, technology, and American culture.
For expert commentary on developing events in Iraq, and to learn more about RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq service, please contact:
• David Newton, Director of Radio Free Iraq (firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone in Prague: 011-4202-2112-2651)
• Kathleen Ridolfo, Editor of "RFE/RL Iraq Report" (email@example.com; telephone in Prague: 011-4202-2112-7711)
Learn more about Iraq and Radio Free Iraq at RFI's Arabic-language website: http://www.iraqhurr.org