A survey conducted this week for Grayling, one of the world’s leading independent PR consultancies, has revealed that Al Jazeera TV’s Arabic news channel is both the most watched and the most trusted source of news.
The survey was conducted this week by YouGov Siraj amongst 1,509 respondents in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Whilst national variances apply, the results serve to underline how much TV news reporting is both watched and trusted by a broad mix of communities in both countries. Overall, 52 per cent of respondents said Al Jazeera was their most popular news channel and 44 per cent agreed it was the most trusted.
Guy Taylor, Managing Director of Grayling Momentum in the Middle East said: “At a time when appetites for news have clearly increased across the region, TV remains the most popular source. Whilst social media has hit the headlines for putting forward new ideas and opinions, understanding how issues are being reported is crucially important to our clients and our industry.”
The findings reflect the increased positive sentiment towards Al Jazeera TV across parts of the Western World; a shift in perception most prominently acknowledged by US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, who lauded the channel for its quality coverage of the events in the Arab world.
The results indicate some curious discrepancies between popularity and trust, reflecting a trend in society for objective, no holds barred reporting. For example, in Saudi Arabia respondents ranked their local news channels fifth in terms of popularity with a 25 per cent score, compared to 66 per cent for Al Arabiya and 62 per cent for Al Jazeera. Interestingly, local TV news scored only 10 per cent in terms of a trust, compared to 50 and 49 per cent for the most watched channels.
TV audiences in the UAE tend to be more fragmented reflecting the demographics and viewing habits of the country. However, Al Jazeera still comes out on top in terms of popularity at 42 per cent, with 38 per cent saying it was the most trusted. However, BBC World News (English) was ranked second with a significant 35 per cent saying it was both the most watched and the most trusted channel, followed by CNN at 32 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Sky News – soon to open an Arabic service from Abu Dhabi – was ranked in tenth place with only 7 per cent.