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Enhancing democratic communication? Television and partisan politics in Palestine

Abuzanouna, Bahjat A. (2012) Enhancing democratic communication? Television and partisan politics in Palestine. PhD thesis, University of Westminster, Media, Arts and Design.

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Abstract

Against the political backdrop of the Palestinian conflict and Israeli occupation, this thesis focuses on the most important media in the Palestinian context, television, which has the widest reach and influence among Palestinians. The main aim of the thesis is to investigate the question of how far, in the perceptions of Palestinians, the two television channels – Palestine TV and Al-Aqsa TV – are contributing to the development of a new democratic political state through participative communication processes. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected in the Gaza Strip between December 2009 and July 2010 through a survey questionnaire of 500 Gazans, semi-structured and unstructured interviews and focus groups with a range of participants, from university students and human rights activists, to journalists and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees. The thesis investigates the perceptions of different sectors of Palestinian society and media workers about their access to the television channels, their views on media reliability, freedom of expression, the watchdog role of television, their opinions on the status of democracy and human rights, and other issues related to media functions and democracy in Palestine. Three functions of the media - as a forum for discussion and debate; as provider of information and as a watchdog, critiquing the powers that be – are explored. The thesis examines how the media perform in providing the functions of democratic communication through exploring the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas governments and the two television channels Palestine Television and Al-Aqsa. The key findings of the research were, in the view of many respondents, that the two television channels, Palestine TV and Al-Aqsa TV, were controlled by the two political parties - Fatah and Hamas respectively and that this has compromised the media’s function to promote democratic communication and the democratic process. The thesis argues that the two political factions are trying to manipulate the public and conceal information that affects their power. As a result, the political parties have polarized the emerging public sphere. The lack of freedom of expression and access to information has prevented the establishment of a democratic space essential to create a coherent political system and on which to base a democratic society that respects human rights. The thesis concludes by suggesting, however, in the transition to democracy, the existence of partisan media may be able to fulfil a role in contributing to the democratization of Palestine. The two television channels do provide limited functions of democratic communication to their own factions, so between them they may benefit Palestinian society in the progress towards the development of independent media.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Community:University of Westminster > Media, Arts and Design, School of
ID Code:10686
Deposited On:05 Jul 2012 15:50
Last Modified:05 Jul 2012 15:50

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