Viewing and avoidance of the Al-Jazeera satellite television channel in Kuwait: a uses and gratifications perspective

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Employing the uses and gratifications perspective, this study examined factors that motivated Kuwaitis to watch or avoid watching the Al-Jazeera satellite channel and their relationships with political interest and trust in government. Viewers obtained several gratifications that included opinion leadership, free marketplace of information, and surveillance. Those who avoided watching Al-Jazeera did so for partisanship, biased coverage and political apathy. The relationships between gratifications derived from watching Al-Jazeera with political interest and trust in government revealed that those who were very interested in politics were more likely to watch Al-Jazeera for its opinion leadership and surveillance functions. Importantly, the results of this study showed that trust in government was negatively associated with Al-Jazeera's role as a free marketplace of information, its credibility in news presentation, and Kuwait's image in the Arab world. The results of this study support and reinforce our understanding of the various postulates of the uses and gratifications theory. Satellite television networks such as Al-Jazeera have created a free marketplace of ideas and information that would eventually engender citizens to speak for themselves rather than allow authorities to speak for them. Furthermore, these networks have become open forums for average Arabs to express their ideas and exchange views.

Keywords: Al-Jazeera TV; Arab media; Kuwait; international communication; uses and gratifications

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Gulf University for Science & Technology, Kuwait 2: School of Communication Studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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