U.S.-Funded Al Hurra Under Scrutiny

Alhurra TV's logoThe State Department's Inspector General is investigating Al Hurra, the U.S.-funded, Arabic-language satellite TV network. According to the Financial Times, the Broadcasting Board of Governors asked for the investigation into "possible irregularities" with procurement and contracting as well as "concerns that viewing figures might be inflated." The BBG oversees Al Hurra, which has a budget of $49 million for 2005.
The House of Representatives Committee on International Relations subcommittee on oversight and investigations is also looking into the Virginia-based network, which broadcasts to 22 countries. The FT reports Kenneth Tomlinson -- BBG chair and until very recently a member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- and Al Hurra news director Mouafac Harb will be called as witnesses for the November 10 hearing. According to the FT, Harb called the inspector general's investigation a general review into whether al-Hurra was fulfilling its mission. "There's a campaign against al-Hurra by some people in this city who don't like our dedication to freedom and democracy," he said.


Check out Art Levine's article "[http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=10595|Bad Reception]" on The American Prospect website. Levine takes a closer look at the incompetance and cronyism associated with the US-funded station.

The American Prospect has published a correction to [http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=10602 its article] on the Middle East Broadcasting Network, which is [http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=10602 available here] and copied, in part, below:

[O]ur report further described as "excessive" a contract between MBN and CCG pursuant to which CCG provides Alhurra television with live simultaneous interpretation services. In support of this statement, we spoke with current and former staffers of Voice of America, Alhurra and foreign-owned Arabic broadcast services and compared the cost of the Alhurra/CCG contract with the cost of language services at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. However, the services provided by CCG to Alhurra are not the same as those at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and, therefore, it would have been preferable to have included in any comparison of these services a discussion of the differences. Our report incorrectly stated that CCG received monies from the manager or owner of the Crystal City apartment complex where MBN employees arriving from overseas have been relocated by CCG, rather than in a location that our article indicated might be more appropriate...